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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Educational use only; do not reuse.

584 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 584
Hads: 2,043
Avg: 3.54
pDev: 29.38%
Wants: 77
Gots: 251 | 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: 584 | Hads: 2,043
Photo of leegang
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle ice chilled into a pint glass.

A: Poured a hazy light straw colored brew with quite a big head which instantly died down into a long-lasting lace around the glass.Quite a bit of carbonation as tiny bubbles keep oozing up from the bottom of the glass. Looks simply amazing, now time for the smell.

S: Dominant lemon zesty nose with slight herbal aroma with traces of spice (cloves?). Just by smelling it I can start to feel my mouth watering.

T: A light yet delightful tinge of sourness envelopes the taste buds which almost dissipates immediately, leaving a tart and dry finish. The light sourness tastes like fresh-squeezed lemonade on ice without the sharp initial sour bite that most lemonade have, and the smoothness of the wheat balance off any other sharp tones making this an extremely well balanced beer.

M: Very light bodied with a high amount of carbonation (serving it ice-cold is the way to go). The fizzy carbonation and light sourness plays an extremely wonderful trick on the tongue.

O: An extremely refreshing and sessionable beer. Very well-balanced in terms of the carbonation, mouthfeel and sourness. Many may think it as being too light and less savoury than other sour beers out there, but I personally think that this is an extremely well balanced lightly soured beer that is surprisingly versatile and tasty! A damn fine refreshing beer especially in a hot day, and does wonders when paired with freshly baked fish. Definitely stocking up on this.

Singapore, 30/11/15.

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Photo of MemphisSooner
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The reviews of this beer are an exercise in missing the point. This is a fantastic beer. It is category destroying, as it is not exactly a berliner weiss, but is in the 'sour/tart', low abv family. This beer is refreshing, tart, drinkable, and satisfying on a hot day. If you are thirsty, want a break from the norm, and enjoy the tart flavor profile, get this one. Super tasty.

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Photo of jimdalton
3.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pale, golden, straw color with a cloudy haze. Quickly receding one inch head with light lacing.
Odor: Sour, tart top notes with light malt undertones
Taste: Tart citrus flavor (cranberry with a hint of lemon) and a smooth yet subtle malt base. Subtle earthy, herbal notes as well. There is a sophisticated balance at work in this beer.
Mouthfeel: Lighter in body with a medium carbonation.
Overall: Bell's Oarsman is a wonderfully tart beer that ventures into the realm of citrus and earthy flavors and does not disappoint. This isn’t your old standby, and it is definitely worth the experience.

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Photo of beergoot
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light gold in color with a fizzy head. Aroma is sweet and lemony; tangy and sour. The flavor follows the aroma. Light bodied and rather fizzy on the tongue; mostly dry finish.

A fair enough beer for the style.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.1/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Batch 14709 bottled 8/18/15.

12 oz bottle served chilled into a Pilsner glass. Oarsman is a very pale straw yellow color with thin fizzy white head. This beer appears to be bottle conditioned and I poured the yeast dregs in so it's got considerable haze.

Aroma is mild with hints of slightly sour fruit.

Flavor is also mild but has great character including tart lemon, wheat, and just a bit of while yeast funk.

Mouthfeel is light in body and nicely carbonated.

Easy drinking but not super simple. An enjoyable summer session beer with depth and character.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy straw color with a head that fizzes away almost instantly. Aroma is classic berliner weisse: sweet lemon or lemonade with some honey hints and wheat. Taste starts with wheat beer notes and follows with a pretty light, lemony tartness. Body is light and well carbonated, making the beer very refreshing and easy to drink. Overall this is a very well made, classic berliner weisse.

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Photo of angelmonster
3.96/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, yellow, fizzy body. Head is super thin and white. Head retention and lacing were average.

Smell is of straw malt, lemon zest, and peppery saison/hefeweizen yeast. No hops or alcohol detected.

Taste is of acidic, slightly sour, pale, straw malt. Tastes like a corona with a lime added, I think I've used that descriptor with Westbrook Gose as well.

Mouthfeel is light and very well carbonated. Head dissipated quickly unfortunately and lacto yeast left a puckering sensation on the palate.

Overall this beer was a refreshing, session able berliner. Nothing remarkable but a solid and easy to obtain ale. Would like to enjoy this one on a hot summer day.

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Photo of JLaw55
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was pleasant and slightly sour. Definitely a starter for the uninitiated to the style. This is about as mild as they come. Even my wife, who hates anything sour, liked it. While it was pleasant and I would drink again, the big thing for me as that there wasn't a whole lot of flavor behind the sour. It was just a little bit of wheat and not much else.

Would drink again. Not seeking out though.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.4/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had at Ye Olde Saloon in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I've wanted to try this beer for quite a few years but never got around to actually trying it. Finally, I'm having my first Oarsman, and my first Berliner Weissbier. Well, I'm not a fan, unfortunately. All I could think when drinking this is that it tastes like a silghtly sour Witbier. I like sours, but Witbiers are one of my least favorite styles, for whatever reason. I'm trying to not let that influence me in this review, but no doubt it is. It really just has the typical coriander/clove/banana sorts of flavors that a Witbier would have, with a little bit of a "twang" tartness/sourness to it. It's different enough that I'd try it again, but it definitely wouldn't be a go-to for me. It's memorable, so it has that going for it. I would also say it's not boring, and has a relatively big flavor for a beer that's only 4%. Still, I can't quite help it -- it's just a beer that I'm not personally "feeling."

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Photo of SometimesIfart
2.99/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bells Oarsman.

Bought this mostly as a palate washer for a nigh of big brews. Bells usually does me pretty solid. Blahblahblah let's skip the bollocks and get to drinking.

Look - Pours a very murked deep shade of yellowish golden with a two finger head that quickly runs away faster than an armed robber from the cops. Carbonation appears to be moderate with this one as expected . Lacing just isn't there to be noted. 3.5.

Smell - I don't really get it. What's the difference between a Berliner Weissbier and an adjunct? The cloves and fruits of course!. Bit of banana, bit of cloves, and a bit of adjunct. Still not impressive. 3.25.

Taste - High levels of indistinguishable fruits on this taste, with a heavily corny finish. I really have nothing else to say here. Ain't bad. 3

Feel - Body is as heavy as your ex wives ass in bed with a huge dose of carbonation. Really does not fit the supposed light nature of the beer.. 2.

Overall - I must not have gotten the memo on this one, nor the joke. So the Germans have basically taken an AAL, Upped the flavor a bit, and added a ridiculous body to catch it? Hmm. Well, it certainly isn't close to the worst thing I've ever had, but I don't see why you should be punished with such heaviness body wise for such a low ABV beer. 3.

This is really what those obese lonely sixty year old men drink in their moms basement around their toy train collection as they feel a quarter Deutsch for the night? For shame. Look if you want a good German style beer, Get GLBC Oktoberfest or North Peak Dauntless Oktoberfest. Trust me guys.

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Photo of ordybill
4.16/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass at the World of Beer in Pooler, GA. This was a very refreshing Berliner Weissbier. The beer has a slightly tart fruit flavor that goes well in the hot weather.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.5/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love this offering from Bell's. It's simple, but very nicely done. I would call it a great introduction to sour beers, for someone who is interested in them but doesn't like the extreme sour beers. Its got a quick bit of tartness that finishes clean and crisp. Some herbal notes in the flavor. Nicely carbonated. Very sessionable. Very refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Photo of jwc215
3.59/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Packaged on 07/02/15:

Pours clouded golden. A thin fizzy white head leaves some dotted lacing. Not much head retention or lacing - but not unusual for the style.

The smell is of tart (fruity), sour bready yeast.

The taste is of relatively mild sour (touch of vinegar) - yeast/bread. Finishes with a light sour character.

Crisp, light and refreshing.

A nice, milder take on the style.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.83/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The look of this beer is a light straw color with a small white head that disappears almost instantly. Smell is citrus, floral and sour. Taste is citrus and wheat with a littke bit of sour coming through on the back end. Feel is very light, crisp and refreshing. Overall I enjoyed this beer and probably would buy again, but it is not my favorite take on the style.

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Photo of Bottleguy
3.73/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

My first experience with a berliner; I very much enjoyed this as a single purchase, so I bought a 6'er shortly after. The single taste significantly different than the six pack I purchased, so much so that I was dishearted from purchasing this beer again. On review of the single, lightly carbonated, hints of vinegar, overall very drinkable. The six pack on the other hand, overwhelmingly sour, with almost a sour milk taste. Perhaps I'll purchase again.

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Photo of ghengisflan
4.22/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Unfiltered, straw yellow. No head and no lacing.

Smell: The sour smell definitely predominates.

Taste: A subtler sour taste than might be expected at first sniff, over a background wheat ale.

Feel: Well carbonated, but not excessively so.

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Photo of Zonk
3.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Mild vinegar and grapes on the nose, smelling a bit like an acidic white wine. Thin but refreshing on the palate with just a hint of sour. Refreshing summer beer.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.89/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap at kite and key Philadelphia. Cloudy white yellow with some white foam. Citrus nose, spices too. Taste is a light clean citrus based malt. Subtle tartness, but not sour. Smooth. Quite refreshing, nice session able summer brew.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.1/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a pale straw with plenty of meringue-like head. The aroma is biscuity, with a pleasant hint of vinegar. The taste is straight up summer refreshment. The lovely acid hits you first, as well as the bready, yeasty, sourdough flavor. The mouthfeel is rather thin and a bit flat despite the head. That is the only disappointing feature of this summer classic. Unbeatable for the price.

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Photo of alexanderplatz
3.23/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Practically no aroma,

Taste: The first word that comes to mind is "inoffensive." It isn't very strong in taste was a little overpowered by food. Overall I would compare it to a somewhat watered-down version of Bell's Oberon.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.92/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a vibrant, slightly hazy straw with maybe 1/4" fizzy white head that's gone in an instant. Retention is barely there, lacing just isn't there.

S: Proper lactic tartness, hints of sour apple, grape must. Smells great!

T: Comes on off-sweet & bready. Mid palate is dominated by subtle grapey notes. Finishes with a really nice tart lactic sourness. Simple, but VERY effective.

M: Style-appropriate. Moderate/high carb married to a light, crisp, soda-like body.

O: I love it. It's such a straightforward & enjoyable Berliner. No frills, accessibly tart & totally quaffable.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.22/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, served in a Bell's snifter.

Pours a slightly hazy lemon-yellow body, two finger fluffy white head that fits the glass perfectly. Smells of mild lemon, wheat, not a whole lot else. Minimal bread and lacto. Flavour is fairly bland; wheat, a mild bit of lemon and that's about it. No tartness, oak or much depth at all to it. Still, it's a fairly refreshing Berliner and probably closer to the old style than the likes of De Garde Bu Weisse, for example. Mouthfeel is lighter bodied, slightly drying with a good bit of carbonation, very refreshing with a bit of wheat and non-descript sweetness on the finish. Overall, decent berliner weisse that doesn't deliver much flavour, but is refreshing just the same.

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Photo of MVG7113
2.84/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I always seem to end up reviewing the beers that I don't particularly love. I can't say why this is the case--but it definitely seems that way!

I knew nothing about this beer and was actually expecting a traditional ale style beer, not a berliner-weisse. Initially, I was really disappointed because this beer was just not what I was looking for tonight (even though I actually picked up a Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weiss also). Nonetheless, I'll probably end up drinking to entire 6-pack to make sure the 'session' description from Bells is put to work.

A: Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (packed in early March) into a 16 oz. tulip glass. A finger of white fluffy head appears and dissipate to a nice ring, leaving minimal lacing throughout. The beer really looks well--a light golden straw appearance that you can't quite see through. Good on looks, but not blowing me away.

S: Kind of an odd smell. Some Bell's beers are always producing a funky scent to me, this beer is consistent with that. Aside from the funk, theres a hit of lemon on the nose, maybe some honey accompanying it. Kind of lemony-grassy, but not quite. Also, a scent of wheat breaks through. At first, I thought I was picking up a somewhat metallic scent, but that seems to fluctuate. Really though, there isn't a pungent aroma here, which is consistent with the style.

T: Very light, with some sour-lemon (but not that sour) followed by the wheat aspect of the beer. Like I said, I wasn't looking for a sour wheat beer tonight. But for the style, this is nice, refreshing, and a nice break from some of the other, more popular styles.

F: Again, very light, with sour being the initial feel. It's almost like a light/dry/tart feel. The more I'm thinking about it, the higher my rating is getting.

O: For the style, this beer is good. Almost unique. It's kind of dry, not a lot of carbonation. But it remains crisp and light--with good flavors coming out. Not what I wanted, but good.

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Photo of BillRoth
3.91/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very pleasantly surprised after reading ratings/reviews. Had on tap at Ocean Odyssey Cambridge MD.
Very tasty tart wheat ale.
And fantastic with salty Chesapeake Bay oysters.
I'll hold on comparisons to Berliner Weisse...but this is a very nice tasty summer brew...for those who like a bit of tartness.

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
3.79/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle to pilsner glass. Produces a couple fingers of fizzy, active head that dissipates pretty quickly to a thick, centimeter cap with good retention. Not much lacing to speak of. Pale straw in color, crystal clear with lots of active carbonation. So far, pretty close to style. There's a funky sourness on the nose, some mild sourdough bread. Taste, while tart, is nowhere near as sour as the nose would promise. Refreshing, with a nice citrus zing on the end. Clean on the palate. There's a feeling of a sour green apples. Taste is delicate, never overpowering. Great selection for muggy, hot days and crisp fall afternoons I would say.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 584 ratings.