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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

1,758 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,758
Reviews: 542
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 66
Gots: 127 | 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:
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 added by: Thorpe429 on 04-12-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,758 | Reviews: 542 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sorry Bell's. I thought this was a lager based on the mouthfeel. I got some lemon and sourness out in front, didn't like it, and went for a perrier with lemon instead. Fresh bottle from Cleveland.So not so drinkable, didn't care for the smell, the mouthfeel. You get the picture.

Sammy, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of t0rin0
2.75/5  rDev -21.7%

t0rin0, Aug 22, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kzoobrew for sending me this one!

Pours a murky light yellow with a 1/2 inch foamy white head that fades to an oily film. No lacing whatsoever. Smell is of wheat, lemons, and a sour aroma. Taste is of wheat, lemon/citrus, and a slightly sour flavor. A nice tart flavor lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a very crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good refreshing beer with a nice pleasant tartness. I am glad I got to try this one.

UCLABrewN84, Sep 05, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -14.5%

djrn2, Jan 10, 2012
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

zestar, Jan 05, 2014
Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

spycow, Jan 18, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery on April 11, 2009.

A: Pale lemonish color. Slightly cloudy with a decent bone white head.

S: Slightly sweet and a little bit tart.

T: Pale malt with some tartness. A few hops.

M: Very crisp with moderate carbonation.

D: Very drinkable. Great outdoor summer drink.

Thorpe429, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +14%

nmann08, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy light yellow in color and somewhat resembles lemonade. It poured with a quarter finger high white head that quickly died down and left a bit of lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of sourness in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has a moderate amount of sourness, but that’s about it. The sourness is neither strong nor overpowering (and doesn’t have any funkiness like in a gueuze).
M: It feels light-bodied and a bit tart on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer really cleanses your palate, similar to what you would expect from a light sorbet between courses at dinner.

metter98, Apr 07, 2012
Photo of Texasfan549
3.25/5  rDev -7.4%

Texasfan549, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy lemon color with a modest whipped egg white head that fails to leave any lace; I haven't had too much exposure to the Berliner Weisse style but if memory serves, they tend not to produce much of a head, so I am rating this by giving them the benefit of the doubt

Smell: Bready, with a reasonable amount of lemony tartness

Taste: Starts out with a crusty bread character, with the lemony element taking charge by mid-palate; after the swallow, the lemon flavors persist, though the breadiness returns to provide some balance

Mouthfeel: Light body with prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Though it is not a true Berliner Weisse, I think Bell's has stumbled onto something here as I really enjoyed the lightness and tartness; the beer would also pair well with a range of foods; it might not be every BA's cup of tea but it is a beer with potential mass appeal that I wouldn't mind drinking on a range of occasions

brentk56, Sep 13, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"If the wind will not serve, take to the oars."

--Latin proverb

Acid-washed lemon yellow with a two finger crown of cumulus cloud white that is slightly crackly. The foam is still sticky enough, however, to grace the glass with dots and spots of lace... that don't last. Looks like a Berliner weissbier.

The nose is more akin to a classic American pale wheat with a bit more lemony tartness than is typical. The beer smells clean and fresh and inviting. Simplicity is no black eye when style is taken into account.

The brewery's goal was to create a year-round session beer that would be good alone or with food. Mission... pretty much accomplished. The amount of citrus juice tartness puts Oarsman Ale closer to Berliner weissbier than American pale wheat and might cost them repeat sales. Just a hunch. This is pretty good ale, but multiple bottles could become a little bit wearing.

Malt contributes almost nothing in terms of flavor, sweetness or feel. Hops are on the low end as well. The result is a beer that needs some flavor hook other than lemon juice and wheat. There isn't even much untoasted grain, such as is present in a relatively burly American pale lager like Schlitz Gusto.

The mouthfeel can hardly be faulted for being light. Slightly sparkly bubbles should work well, but these are a little too sharp and don't seem to be fading much as the bottom of the bottle approaches.

On the strength of too many offerings to mention here, Bell's is a mainstay in my top-10 American breweries of all-time. The idea behind Oarsman Ale was a good one, but the Berliner weissbier-like sourness might not have been the best way to go.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 11, 2010
Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wheat-heavy and sharply acidic, this American Wheat is estery, phenolic, rich, and crisp- a lot going on for a beer style that catches a lot of criticism.

The beer pours a murky golden color with a froathy-fizzy head that disapoints with it's head retention; reducing to a trace very quickly and struggles to exist for the first quarter of the session.

Aromas of wheat dominate the beer (this beer obviously uses much more wheat than the norm). Spicy rye-like scents combine with lemon and apple esters, almost-smoky phenolics, and an earthy sweetness than hinges on sourdough breads and tobacco.

Flavors are acidic and lemony up front with a bright and crisp start. But the wheaty/spicy notes take the sharp flavors into a more mellow bread and white pepper taste. The bready-sweet flavors intensify towards the finish and stray from the lemony start. Pungent, earthy, and a pleasant graininess persists late in the finish. The beer takes a very German-like maltiness and yeastiness but an English-like hop identity.

Likewise, the beer starts lemony in mouthfeel with a palate-stripping acidic feel. But the beer takes on a more full, malty, bready texture as the beer makes its transition into the finish. Earthy, bitey, and mildly astringent late.

Oarsman seems to take a reverse procession than what beers normally do. The usual transition is from a creamy-sweet start into a dry-acidic finish. This beer starts with the lemony-acidic start into a froathy-bready-earthy finish. Although this beer is characterful, drinkable, and complex it's still an American Wheat Ale that pales in comparison to traditional German Hefeweizens.

BEERchitect, Sep 28, 2010
Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

kjkinsey, Sep 15, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -14.5%

GRG1313, May 13, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
3.18/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Barleys, I was thrilled to death to be able to try this one. Having been soo hot lately I really was in the mood to start the day with a little something lighter. Served in a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/17/2010.

The pour was alright. Lightly clouded golden amber with a small head of white that quickly faded out of the scene. Lots of carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass. Very light aroma here, hints of bready notes, a touch of light fruit, pears perhaps and a light notes of spice. Not the tartness and richness I would have liked to see in the style. Flavor followed suit the same. Just lacked the pop I would have like to have seen. Really nice grainy notes, touches of light fruit, but nothing drawing me back in. Light on the palate and nicely sessionable, it just lacked that dryness and depth of profile to put me over the top.

Overall a rather average offering from Bell's. I was hoping for a little more I have to admit.

mikesgroove, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -14.5%

ygtbsm94, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sending this one my way, Derek. Been looking forward to trying it out.

A: The pour is a clouded pale golden straw color with a small white head.

S: It has a big wheat aroma to it, which I expected, with some undertones of a Berliner Weiss. A slight lemony character along with a definite popcorn type aroma. There seems to be an underlying earthy note to the beer as well.

T: The flavor is very reminiscent of a Berliner Weiss. Nicely tart and lactic with lots of wheat flavor. Very bright and clean acidity and tartness rather than the unwanted and unintentional sourness of the usual Pale Wheat Ale.

M: Light in body with a moderate level of carbonation.

O: I have heard such varying opinions on this beer I wasn't sure what I would be getting, but I liked this one. Nice and refreshing.

womencantsail, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

kylehay2004, May 11, 2013
Photo of Knapp85
3.13/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. The beer is very light looking. Very clean and clear brew with some bubbles rising periodically. The Head wasn't too much of anything really. The smell had something like a funky aroma, not strong like a lambic but very light hint of it in there. That little hint from the nose come over onto the tongue with each sip. It's quite a different beer. I don't recall having something similar to this before. Not a bad brew at all, but not my favorite.

Knapp85, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle - $5.00 at Taco Mac in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a pale gold body with just the faintest bit of haziness to it and, despite an enthusiastic pour, no more than a slim, white head.

Smell: Aroma smelling of a distant lemon meringue pie, a hint of moistened herbs, and a nudge of nonchalant wheat.

Taste: Soft white wheat, faintly bready, dosed with a dollop of lemon custard garnished with a curl of tart lemon peel. Mild sweetness. No real bitterness felt. Moderate lactic tartness. Proportionately acidic as you near the drying, cleansing finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: It's alright for a light ale best suited to easy, refreshing drinking outdoors in the warmer months.

ChainGangGuy, Dec 30, 2010
Photo of JAHMUR
3.25/5  rDev -7.4%

JAHMUR, Nov 08, 2012
Photo of TMoney2591
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Devil's Backbone willibecher.

My brother bought a sixer o' this and hated it, so I smilingly inherited some free beer. Always welcome. It pours a hazy pale straw, not entirely unlike lemonade, topped by a bit less than a finger of relatively short-lived white micro-foam. The nose is basically a two-pronged attack consisting of lemon zest and some mildly funky wheat and rice. The taste reminds me of a hardy lemonade, with a touch of Squirt for extra citrus flavor and the carbonation. This doesn't really mean I think it's bad, just not great. The body is pretty light, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly refreshing feel and finish. Overall, it's very drinkable, but I'm just not too enthused about it.

TMoney2591, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

SocalKicks, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of emerge077
4.38/5  rDev +24.8%
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.

emerge077, Dec 10, 2010
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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,758 ratings.