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

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Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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BA SCORE
81
good

567 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 567
Hads: 1,977
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.04%
Wants: 76
Gots: 213 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 567 | Hads: 1,977
Photo of cdizinno
4.75/5  rDev +33.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured into a pint glass from a growler purchased at Green's-Piney Grove in Columbia. Green's also supplied with Himbeere (raspberry-red) and Waldmeister (woodruff-green) as the traditional additive shots. Excellent !!!

A: Ever so slightly hazy, pale golden straw color with a rapidly vanishing white head and minimal lacing.

S: Grain, mild malty sweetness.

T&M: Crisp, refreshing, tartness. Citrus fruit undertones with almost no hop bitterness and a mild sour taste. Light bodied.

This is definitely not my first choice in a style of beer, however, the Oarsmen is an incredibly drinkable. They are spot-on for the style by this sites description. The syrups are excellent if you don't mind a flavorable sweet fruit taste. Himbeere is raspberry and awesome. The Waldmeister is woodruff and tastes like marshmallows, Lucky Charms to be more specific(Thanks Joseph). This was definitely a worthwhile growler and experience! I could drink one of these a day(with the flavoring). Nice and mild, great dessert or break between different styles of beers to clean the palette. (1,088 characters)

Photo of JamnesCameron
4.72/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a MJ tasting glass. Gonna rate this as an american wild ale due to the sour mash.

Pours a ever so faintly hazy pale yellow color with a big white head that dissipates quickly.

Aromas of lactic acid and wheat malt. No hops, no spices evident.

First sip is of a restrained tartness, some lactic acid. A slight bite from carbonation. Some wheat qualities evident in the taste as well. Very clean yeast used, no fruit or estery flavors. Nice sourness that isn't overpowering.

Mouthfeel is light and slightly creamy. A little dryness evident. Some prickly carbonation.

Nice sour beer, very drinkable, very thirst quenching. This would make a very nice summer beer. Not sure this fits as an American Pale Wheat Ale - sourness doesn't fit. Recommending changing style to american wild ale. (799 characters)

Photo of gdfan47
4.65/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- pours a really light wheaty yellow with almost no head after a few minutes.
S- Puckering bitterness, vinegar, very tart
T- smooth, tart, some sugar, but not unbearable
M- highly carbonated, refreshing.
D- All day, they labeled this a czech pilsner but it has all the characteristics of a berlinerweiss.

Note: according to this site, it was only brewed once. I hope Larry Bell and crew decide to make this one again. Its pretty amazing. (439 characters)

Photo of leannlovr
4.65/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Nice crisp taste. Easy to drink down in gulps. Light on the alcohol content which means you'll last longer at a drinking session. I had this in a glass poured from the bottle at Montana's Ale House in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (220 characters)

Photo of Handy50322
4.63/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a Beer that I have been looking for. The appearance was light, it is only 4% and has wheat so it is very light gold in color.
The smell is slightly sour, so I was expecting a very refreshing sensation.
The taste said it all. It had the wheat flavor with the sour of a great European Ale.
The mouth feel was light and the head vanished quickly.
A Great Session Beer! Finally something to enjoy without sacrificing my sobriety so quickly. (449 characters)

Photo of oldbizmark
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
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. (269 characters)

Photo of Madapour
4.55/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I absolutely love this beer. The sour taste is exactly what I like, of course, I didn't know it until I tasted it. I have drank a good number of these beers, and a little pre drink advice before you pop the top, flip the beer upside down and tilt it and spin it to get all the goodies off the bottom. It makes the first drink as sour as the last. (346 characters)

Photo of earth2sean
4.55/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I truly enjoy this beer. The sour mash leads to a depth of sourness that doesn't seem to be achieved with fermentation and barrel souring techniques.

The beer presents itself modestly in aromatic presentation and head production. At first touch, the sparkle of carbonation and abrasive tart of sour wheat and barley sugars encourage a defensive posture. But as the sour reaches towards the limits of the palate, the cold wash of pale malts brings it home.

A great session, the second bottle is better than the first. (520 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a cloudy white-golden color, intensely bright yet hazy. There’s a sharp sour-tart aroma to it that’s unique and distinct. I remember it as being ‘Oarsman-like,’ from when I first had this on tap. I know that’s not helpful. Perhaps better to say it reminds me of green apple Jolly Ranchers, only from real fruit and not artificial? The tartness gives this beer a crisp, clean taste and finish. There’s a smoothness to it and it’s strong enough to cut through say pasta or a garlicky salad, yet it’s not heavy in the least. Refreshing and delicious. (574 characters)

Photo of sometown
4.46/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Cloudy and Golden. When poured aggressively, it develops a delicate but fluffy head.

S: Tart and Earthy

T: It's got a great little twangy pop to it. It's crisp and slightly sour.

M: Thin but fizzy. Mine is quite cold, and it is a really refreshing sensation. Diving into the light, fluffy head, it seemed to dissolve around my lips.

O: A truly great session beer. It's got a mildly sour kick, and it's fairly effervescent. It's very light, but it has a lot of character. At 120 calories per bottle, I think I'm in love. (527 characters)

Photo of ClimbingClay
4.45/5  rDev +25%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer is a favorite of mine at the eccentric cafe. Especially when they have a show, it is nice and light, great for when your going to have a few!

It isn't always on tap, and they don't sell it, so give it a try if you like a nice crisp beer that you can drink all night. (278 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a fairly clear golden-yellow with a thin finger of frothy white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind a touch of lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of sharp acidic and tart lemon with some farmhouse funk, wheat, a bit of sourness, and some yeast.

T - Starts off with a mix of tart and acidic lemon with some funkiness and lightly sweet wheat. Through the middle, some more yeast and stronger funk comes through with some more grains and a touch of bread. The finish is a mix of lemon zest, wheat, tart and acidic flavors, with some funky yeast.

M - Light bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a tart, acidic, sour, and funky finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice Berliner Weissbier with really nice balance and some good acidic, tart, and funky flavors. (784 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a Berliner Weisse/American Wheat hybrid style.

Bright gold, slight haze once the yeast is poured. Steadfast cap of bone white foam, creating thick sheets of lace as it's sipped. Very attractive bright pastel gold.

Aroma of white grapes, minerals, dusty wheat, signature Berliner Weisse traits.

Mildly sharp lactic acid tartness, with wheaty creaminess settling in after the initial tart snap. Firm wheat flavor, sour crabapple, and mild grape notes, soft and ethereal. Even carbonation, soft feel, not even approaching puckering, rather a mild pleasant tartness. Sublime in it's simplicity, this is something i'd crave on a hot summer day. Ultimately sessionable at 4%, and sadly misunderstood. (707 characters)

Photo of Brent
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

After seeing this listed here as an American pale wheat, I checked the brewery's website to see how they classify it, because my impression was that of a Berliner Weiss. Bell's does not make reference to that style, but they have certainly created a very refreshingly tart wheat - Prickly, lemony tartness up front, with a smooth body and sliglty dry finish. Only detracton was a bit of grainyness near the end as the beer warmed. (430 characters)

Photo of CraigP83
4.39/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very pale yellow, nearly clear. Smells light, slight sour and wheat. Effervescent wheat flavor and a little green apple tartness. Sessionable too, we have a winner! (164 characters)

Photo of slowbie
4.38/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with a nice three finger head with good retention.

Aroma is tart and lemony with a slight malt background.

Taste is more of the same as the aroma. A solidly detectable level of tartness but nowhere near the likes of a Cantillon.

Light, bubbly mouthfeel.

This beer isn't a Berliner Weiss, but to be fair, Bells has said that it's not. This is a fantastic summer beer. Tart enough to be interesting, light and drinkable enough to put down a six pack without thinking twice. (502 characters)

Photo of Agold
4.37/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is probably the lightest beer I have ever seen. Pretty clear, but there is a bit of haze. Initial bright white head which recedes to nothing relatively quickly. There is visible carbonation on the glass. Aroma is mildly lemony with some mild tartness and a bit of maybe smooth wheat and very mild funk. There is lots of lemon and maybe peach with some nice tartness and a bit more musty dirtyness than the aroma. Mouthfeel is great. Light, high carbonation, refreshing, and dry. I had this on tap a while ago and was not as impressed with it. I think it was the lower carbonation. The aggressive effervescent carbonation really helps a lot of the other aspects of the tartness and fruit shine. (703 characters)

Photo of thebierbrewery
4.34/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Light straw color, slightly hazy, slight head retention

S- Citrusy, lemony smell. Very slight hop aroma, but balanced between malt and hops

T- Nice sourness that doesn't linger, finishes very crisp. Great balance and crispness that is extremely refreshing

M- Very light, acidic and carbonic

D- Very drinkable and thirst quenching on a hot summer day. The slight sourness is what makes this beer great (407 characters)

Photo of Patchmaster
4.33/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I take this beer for what it is. A nice session beer with a little citrus sour kick at the end. Not as complex as some of the other beers I've reviewed. That being said I could drink this all day sitting at the pool. Too bad it's after labor day and the pool is closed!!!

A - A hazy yellow pour with a nice white head.

S - I smell citrus, grapefruit. A very refreshing smell.

T - Very smooth with a pleasant finish of sweet sour at the end. Delightful!!!

M - Slight carbonation low to medium

D - Take it for what it is. I love the beer and would choose pick this one if I just want a nice drinker. (602 characters)

Photo of zachary80
4.32/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Batch 9861 into a pint glass. Bottle says 4.0% abv

L
Pale straw colored hazy brew. Small fizzy white head is short lived. It leaves virtually no lacing on the glass, and there are no yeast floaties
S
Like a great wheat with some tartness...
T
Follows the smell exactly. Not much aftertaste.
M
Good mouthfeel, but maybe too much carbonation. Medium bodied
D
Where'd my glass go?

To me this is somewhere between an American Pale Wheat and Berliner Weiss, probably why it has flipped classification. (498 characters)

Photo of bubseymour
4.3/5  rDev +20.8%

My traveling beer geek pal, picked this one up for me while on beercation in OBX. A wonderful session beer in Berliner Weissbier style. Slightly tart, easy to drink and very balanced and flavorful. Could have this beer anytime, anywhere, any reason. If there is anything to knock it, its only because of fizziness in the body and the finish is a touch on the dry side and not as smooth and cleansing as some other ones from same style of beer. Otherwise, its delicious. Enjoy! (483 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.3/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very bready with lemon and citrus tones, but with an excellent mix of characteristics that lets a lot of things show through and lets no one thing hijack the ride. Berliner Weisse characteristics abound. Good feel, very easily drinkable. I could actually go for many of these in one sitting. A really excellent production, imo. (327 characters)

Photo of afdempse
4.3/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. pour into a chalice. Big thanks to Huhzubendah for the bottle!

Pours a nice light straw color, slightly hazy, with sticky white foam that dwindles to a wisp.

Aroma is faint, slight sour malt and bread/biscuit notes.

Big, beautiful fresh biscuit and bready flavors come forward, followed by refreshing lemony sourness that leaves the palate refreshed. Perhaps not quite as sour as a true Berliner Weisse but delicious in its own right. Wheaty twang and clean yeast round out the profile. Grains in the breath keep going and going.

Mouthfeel is very full and carbonation is solid, albeit slightly low for the style. This beer is proof that low alcohol brews do not need to be thin.

Extremely refreshing, with a flavor and finish that begs you to have more than one. Fits the bill for a beer you'd like to have a cooler full of while out fishing on the lake in northern Michigan. I'll definitely be seeking this one out in the future. (945 characters)

Photo of prdstmnky
4.29/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

*review from notes on 11/2/10*

Batch #9934

Poured into a unbranded tulip, this ale has a light lemon yellow body. It is clear, with lots of bubbles rising up, maybe a 1/2 inch of head that fades quickly leaving no lacing. Some lemon and wheat notes in the smell, a bit tart, nice. Taste is just what my nose led me to believe but more pronounced...tart lemons and wheat with perhaps a touch of pepper - has a very nice flavor to it. Lighter bodied, and fairly dry, but very refreshing. Certainly not a Wild Ale, so really just reviewed it to taste - a nice, sessionable wheat beer (more like a berliner imo.) (610 characters)

Photo of Chad
4.29/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bell's has made an excellent session beer with Oarsman Ale.
I have yet to try many Berliner Weiss biers but this one really made an impression with me. Light enough to drink many, but with enough body and taste to be enjoyable. The tartness of this beer is what really makes it stand out. It has a light citrus aroma. The taste of the beer has notes of citrus acidity but is not overly sweet, a common downfall of many fruit beers. One of my top ten. (450 characters)

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 567 ratings.