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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Educational use only; do not reuse.

583 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 583
Hads: 2,041
Avg: 3.54
pDev: 29.38%
Wants: 78
Gots: 250 | FT: 2
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: 583 | Hads: 2,041
Photo of NuclearDolphin
1.55/5  rDev -56.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a 12oz Tumbler Glass

Appearance - Extremely Hazy & Cloudy Wet Straw and Yellow Color that shows off alot of carbonation, almost like lemon juice. There isn't really any head to speak of here on this one, and with that being said, no lacing either

Smell - Has a very sour lemon, wheat, and grassy smell to it. In regards to the wheat, there's a scent of what smells like sourdough bread. There's a slight skunky smell as it starts to warm up and can get a bit offensive.

Taste - Very sour tasting beer with some lemon and wheat notes. Once you get used to the taste, the sour/tart taste starts to die down and you can start to pick up on the barley and grassy notes. The sourness of the beer sort of makes me cringe as I drink it.

Mouthfeel - Light body but alot of carbonation and there's almost a syrupy sort of feel to it and it feels a little unpleasant.

Overall - It's extremely sour and it starts to smell quite offensive after a few minutes of being out. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not used to this style of beer but I didn't really find myself enjoying Oarsman at all. I know Bell's produces excellent beers, but this is sadly not one of them

 1,172 characters

1.62/5  rDev -54.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I saw this new Bells beer in the store and had to pick it up as I've like just about everything Bells has produced. To start this definitely is nnot my style of beer.

I found the aroma to be fowl, I find it hard to drink because of this.

The taste has a slight citrus flavor which seems like it would be highlighted by a slice of orange but I didn't have anything available at the time. With that said, I found the taste on itself to be unpleasant. The initial taste is tart with a strange aftertaste.

I like a light beer for the summer, but unfortunately this is one Bells beer I won't be buying again.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
1.79/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

This beer poured an almost straw yellow color, wit very small head that dispated quickly. The smell was minimal. The taste was rather stale, and there was hints of some lemon, or other citrus. I found the taste offensive and unpleasent, and I couldnt even finish one. Overall I found this horrible, and I was disapointed that such an abolation from my one of my favirote brewers could be sold.

 393 characters

Photo of weizenbob
1.9/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass. This beer was a headless wonder. The color was near-transparent.

There's not much to pick up in the scent. Tonic water would be the closest comparison that I could come up with.

Unfortunately the taste followed the scent pretty closely. I felt like I was drinking Perrier with a twist of lime. The bite was pretty toothless, with the only standout flavor being the bitter citrus. Strangely there seems to be neither malt, nor hop character. I really felt like I was drinking lightly carbonated water with lime. Did I get a bad bottle or is this what this beer is supposed to be?

How do you rate the mouthfeel of a beer with the consistency of water? I guess it didn't feel offensive in my mouth.

Likewise, the 4% abv paired with ultra-lite flavor and watery consistency gives this a pretty high drinkability. If you don't mind the pucker inducing bitterness I imagine you could drink these all day and night; but why would you really want to?

 972 characters

Photo of bierenutz
1.93/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

A-Pours a murky golden color with a smallish head and moderate amount of lacing on the glass.
S-Mostly funk and sourness overpowering the bready malts.
T-Lemony flavor primarily and alot of sourness.
M-Thin feel and moderate carbonation.
D-NOT...this was a drain pour for me.

 275 characters

Photo of pmarlowe
2.03/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Tulip glass.

Pours very pale gold with fizzy, soda-like head. No head retention or lacing. Aroma is a sort of musty sour apple. There's not much to the flavor except for a little sourness, kind of like a watery cider. Carbonation is high and kind of a harsh fizzy. Overall, it's hard to find much redeeming about this one.

 323 characters

Photo of Jishguy
2.03/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First bell's beer I've had that didn't blow me away.

A- Light golden. Almost yellow. Very minimal head and lacing.

S- Lemon, grassy, wheat, a hint of citrus and sweet malty character. There is this overwhelming sour smell in the background.

T- Tartness. Made me almost pucker at first sip. Tastes like someone squeezed a lemon into a pale ale. An emerging bread-like malt character comes through as the tartness fades.

M- Decent, actually. Good carbonation and creaminess. Goes down pretty smooth.

D- I couldn't drink more than one. It's just a bit sour for my taste.

 572 characters

Photo of wisrarebeer
2.09/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Purchased at the brewery.

A: light yellowish color, slightly hazy, poured with a bit of head that quickly dissipated
S: not true to type sour like authentic Berliner Weissbiers, more musty and oxidized than sour and spritzy
T: mild, has the beginnings of a Berliner Weissbier but lacks sour/acetic punch,
M: very light and watery
O: very disappointing attempt at style, weak and watery and lacks true sourness of authentic examples

 433 characters

Photo of BreakfastStout
2.19/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

It's scary how bad this beer is. I've tried it bottled on 2 different occassions and I was shocked both times at the overwhelming sour taste. Overall Bell's is one of my top five favorite breweries, but this one is a solid miss. A definite drain pour on this one.

 263 characters

Photo of nrbw23
2.23/5  rDev -37%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a light, hazy, pale gold color with a good sized white head. Head has pretty much no retention, forms a few bubbles on top and leaves no lacing.

S- A bit of grains, some citrus here maybe lemonn and pear like but there is something is not very appealing to it for me. A bit tart but just something here not very pleasant almost like a musk.

T- A bit of grassy hops, grains, sour fruits. Fairly light.

M- Light in body and carbonation fairly crisp.

D- No thanks, I'll stick with Two Hearted. Man, this is not my cup of tea. I struggled with the one bottle I had.

 574 characters

Photo of birchstick
2.25/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A - pours a clear yellow with a one finger white head

S - smells pretty bad - sour wheat malts and loads of corn and grain

T - luckily, the taste is better than the nose. A very nice lemon flavor is first on the palate. This fades to wheat and finishes is bready malts. A little weak for the style.

M - spritzy carbonation burns the throat as it down down. Decent body to it.

D - I am surprised this one came from Bell's. This is a pretty weak APWA...really grainy and bready with a good, but very artificial, lemon flavor throughout it. I think I'll go with a two hearted next time...

 589 characters

Photo of Mitchster
2.31/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

$1.80 for a 12oz single @ Jacks. No ingredients listed on the website. "packaged on August 16, 2010", batch #9861. Brewed using "traditional sour mash methods". 4.0% ABV per the bottle.

Pours out to a slightly hazed straw golden, forming a modest white head with average retention and no lacing, with mild to moderate carbonation. The aroma is wheat...kinda fruity, non-descript, barely any hops...suggestion of diacetyl, rubber. Mouthfeel is tart with a thin watery body. the taste is very peculiar...sour all right, like green kiwi fruit and watery lime...tart, with minimal bitterness. Bready in the aftertaste.

Hrmmm. Not my idea of a good beer. I know Bell's is going for a palatable light ale for hot summer days, but I'd pass on this one and have a Budweiser instead. Honestly.

 786 characters

Photo of stearns16
2.38/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A throw-in bottle from HikerCt.

A - Little head, extremely light color, lots of tiny bubbles.

S - Sounds gross, but smells a lot like my wife's tuna salad.

T - Not much. Sort of like a light lemon water.

M - Goes down easy, like water. Not much flavor

D - If it were cold after mowing the lawn on a hot day, yeah I'd enjoy it. But, the same could be said of most beers. Perhaps a good beer for the beach?

 410 characters

Photo of champ103
2.42/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A: Pours pretty much a transparent, almost colorless pale yellow. At first a two finger white head forms, but recedes to nothing in a second. A light watery film of lace appears, then vanishes.
S: Funky yeast is dominate. Some tart lemon as well. Husky wheat. Not bad, but simple.
T: This is not good. A light sour grain flavor. Sulfur and metal. Thin and pale malts. Reminds me of macro lagers which is not a good thing at all.
M/D: Almost no body. Very light and watery. Under carbonated as well. Not hard to drink, but I really don't care to finish this.

A great idea. A tart, almost wild ale like session. Though this is not a very well made beer. A Calabaza Blanca rip off. Nothing I would recommend.

 706 characters

Photo of jrallen34
2.43/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into my De Struise glass...A super light straw pour, totally clear, reminds me right away of bmc! Ok white head, decent retention, lacing is poor...BMA araom of skunkiness, light wheat comes through, a little hops...Taste is all macro as well, almost no flavor, light corn, no hops, sweet wheat.

This beer is garbage, unless you think bmc is good, stay away.

 371 characters

Photo of claspada
2.46/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

First off this beer pours a nice golden yellow but there is no head or lacing, a big knock down for me.
Aroma begins with very light graininess and bready notes, with a touch of light lemon/pear with light spice notes as well. Really awful to be honest; smells like a slightly sour light American big 3 beer.
The taste is average as well with initial graininess and slight hop bitterness. There is a metallic aftertaste which is also off-putting, where is the sour... The finish is dry and crisp which is probably the only decent aspect of the beer. Adequate carbonation despite the lack of initial head/bubbles.
Overall this is not a good beer, even for a session beer. By far the worst beer I have had in a while. Back to the drawing board for Bells on this sessionable pale wheat ale.

 787 characters

Photo of Phinner
2.46/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer needs a disclaimer that it is way more sour than other beers of its style. It's not really a pale ale, but more of a Belgian style sour.

If you can get past the initial shock of the unique, unexpected flavor, it's not a bad beer. But Bell's could do better with its "session" beer.

 292 characters

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
2.48/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Had this one on tap. Was excited to try it, as Bell's has delivered on every occasion in the past. Unfortunately, this one was not the same...

The body is hazy, with a pale straw color. There isn't much head, nor does there seem to be much body at all. However, even the little bit of head does leave good lacing and for what it is, it is retained well.

The aroma is pretty bland, even for a low-gravity nuanced style. I get some wheat malt and some lemongrass. Really nothing beyond that. The flavor is equally bland, with a tartness that doesn't do anything for me. This is an offensive tartness, whereas in the good berlinerweisses that I have enjoyed, the tartness and lactic citrus notes amplified and complemented the other flavors. I just can't really get into this at all.

The mouthfeel is thin, as the flavor and appearance both indicated. Just a disappointing beer overall, and I don't think that the sour mash did it any favors.

 942 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
2.48/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Bar Louie's in Ann Arbor. Cloudy yellow pour, creamy white head on top that sticks around for a while. Aroma is sour lemons, yeast, tart. Taste like sour urine, a bit watered down, unpleasant finish, slightly puckering. Was not impressed with this one, and not a huge fan of this style in general. I'll stick to DFH Festina instead, as this is the only one of the style that I found tolerable.

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Photo of peabody
2.49/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours out mostly clear yellow with one finger of white suds. No lacing to speak of.
Smell is cheap plain beer. No wheat or spices here. Really nothing here.
Taste is kind of a sour mess then a little, and I mean very little dirt/hop. I can't believe this is Bells.
Mouthfeel is very clean. Exactly nothing going on in the mouth.
Drinkability is WAY low here. This is awful.
I'll say it again, I can't believe this is a Bell's beer. I have never had a Bells beer that is this bland.

 481 characters

Photo of MrOH
2.49/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Hazy straw color with just a thin white wisp of a head. No real lacing.

Smells primarily of bread, but with a tart, mushroomy twinge and a little tiny bit of citrus.

Lemony. Bready. Mushroomy. This would go great with oilier fish, or an earthy vegetarian dish. It's not really doing it for me as a stand-alone beer, though.

Really light, but not too effervescent.

I feel bad about not really liking this beer. It would be great when paired appropriately, but it just doesn't float my boat.

 495 characters

Photo of gregoryhersh
2.53/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass. Rich golden color. Nice head, but dissipates almost immediately.

Smell is tangy and citrusy.

Taste takes some getting used to. Has an aftertaste almost like an old cheese in the first sip, but gets much less abrasive after that. Not the ale taste I'd expected with the coloring. Light and flavorful, while maintaining a malty aftertaste. Tart.

Mouthfeel is OK. Light at first, but continues more than I think an ale should. Seems a bit overwhelming. Not the refreshing beer I'd expected.

Not my favorite. Maybe good with a meal, but not just as a casual drink.

 591 characters

Photo of Lothore
2.54/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

A- Pours a yellowish hue with a thin, off white head.

S- Smell is slightly sour, hints of lighter fruit, bready.

T- Taste is tart and bready with hints of lemon.

M- Medium bodied with a good deal of carbonatin.

D- I really disliked this beer. The tartness, while intentional, really didn't mesh well for me. Won't be drinking this again.

 341 characters

Photo of MortarPestle
2.55/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Serving Type: Bottle

Very pale yellow with a slight haze. Poured with a minimal head that dissipated quickly with no lacing. Smell and taste were sour; notes of tart lemon and fermenting fruit, both watered down. I enjoy some of the other Bell's beers but this is not my taste.

 278 characters

Photo of oline73
2.57/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with a finger of white head. The head fades quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Light malt and a slight tartness. Smells good, but here is where I started to worry about how much flavor was going to be in this one.

Taste: This beer has a very light flavor. It might be good with the amount of the flavor, but there needs to be a lot more tartness. This is a pretty boring beer.

Mouthfeel: Light body with sharp carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

Overall: I've been into some Berliner Weissbiers of late and have had a few good ones. This is not one of them. Too plain, I wouldn't have another.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 583 ratings.