1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,796 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,796
Reviews: 543
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 69
Gots: 135 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,796 | Reviews: 543 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ouits
3.25/5  rDev -7.4%

ouits, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of buddyvelt
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

buddyvelt, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Hazy pale yellow with two-finger, white, lumpy, creamy head that a minute or two. Okay lacing.

S: Citrus, tartness, and wheat.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Way more tart than I expected from the aroma.

M: Light to medium bodied with lively carbonation. Crisp, slightly dry.

O: This beer was okay. Pretty average. Good tart taste though.

SolipsismalCat, Oct 21, 2012
Photo of mwar
1.5/5  rDev -57.3%

mwar, Oct 20, 2012
Photo of rolandboy
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

rolandboy, Oct 20, 2012
Photo of Hoptologist
4/5  rDev +14%

Hoptologist, Oct 17, 2012
Photo of RickS95
3.4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very light, pale, milky golden straw yellow. It's cloudy with a nice head initially, that quickly dissipates into nothing.

Lacks much smell. I could pick up some crackerlike yeastiness, but nothing else.

Very much a warm weather taste...yeast, lemon, pear.

Tart, but not overbearing. Crisp and dry. Carbonated.

It's an ok beer. Not a good drink for the colder months, but would be money as a hot weather session beer. I'd look forward to one of these after doing anything to work up a sweat. Easy to drink, won't land you in jail.

RickS95, Oct 17, 2012
Photo of Twifiter
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

Twifiter, Oct 15, 2012
Photo of PackersRGreat
2/5  rDev -43%

PackersRGreat, Oct 14, 2012
Photo of elevatedgreens
4/5  rDev +14%

elevatedgreens, Oct 12, 2012
Photo of Jimmy_Stout
2.5/5  rDev -28.8%

Jimmy_Stout, Oct 10, 2012
Photo of PoolFishGolf
3.25/5  rDev -7.4%

PoolFishGolf, Oct 08, 2012
Photo of a6ladd
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

a6ladd, Oct 05, 2012
Photo of Johnhaley1989
3/5  rDev -14.5%

Johnhaley1989, Oct 05, 2012
Photo of chanokokoro
3.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bell's tulip glass

Pours a hazy pale straw yellow with a bright white one and a half finger head which quickly dissipates. Grass and flora, light sour citrus notes, and a very light accent of funk on the nose. Green tea, fresh grassiness, slight tart light lemon and bready yeast midpalate that finishes dry slightly tart and refreshing. Light body, mild carbonation. The concept behind this beer seems to be a less intense Berliner weiss-style beer. Bell's is successful in accomplishing that. Oarsman Ale is a good introduction beer, however it may seem to be a bit lacking to those fairly familiar with the style and other sour styles.

chanokokoro, Oct 04, 2012
Photo of mikeburd1128
2.95/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass. Bottled on 8/13/12. Batch 11404.

A - Pale golden color with almost a finger of head that's gone in seconds. No lacing whatsoever.

S - Lemony citrus scent. Wheaty. Some tart and funk to it also.

T - Heavy citrus from beginning to end. And I mean HEAVY. You get the wheat again in the finish. This is almost to the level of a shandy.

M - Very light. Moderate carbonation. Finishes very clean.

O - I guess this is well done to the style, but it's really just not for me. Probably a good introduction to craft beer for some people. Sessionable but too tart to really be all that sessionable.

mikeburd1128, Oct 04, 2012
Photo of MatthewBair
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

MatthewBair, Oct 02, 2012
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bell's Oarsman Ale, Brewed and Bottled by Bell's Brewery, Comstock, MI. "Buoyant, tart and refreshing from using traditional sour mash methods. Great for you and your crew." 4.0% ABV.

What does this tell us? How it tastes, how it drinks, how they made it, and what activity it's use is best with. What if I'm not in a boat. And would I like it with a goat?

Clouded, golden, small head, lasts as a thin, white ring.

Aroma: light citrus, light hops, a touch of sourness, a smidgen of sweet. Bit of a funk effect, too. Pleasing enough.

Taste: Brisk, tart, and, yeah, refreshing. A little tingle on the palate, a bracing quick minute of sour, a squirt of citrus, the flash of wheat texture and mouthfeel, and nothing but smoothness and extra-easy drinking.

One thing very much missing in the information given to us by Bell's Brewery is the style of this brew, or even what general area it's shooting for. Not a hefe weizen, not quite a Berliner Weisse, either. Maybe a mix of the two?

I'm also puzzling over the meaning of the name. Why Oarsman? Is there a fondness for rowing at the brewery? Is it an alternative to a "lawnmower beer", a "rowing ale"? So many mysteries.

Another conundrum is how long it took me to take notes on this Bell's beer, having come out so many years ago. It was draft only for years, and I sampled it now and then, but it never quite grabbed me. It's a well-made beer, certainly quaffable, with enough of a tartness to keep it interesting. It's fun, and tasty, and the 6-pack will be done quickly enough. I probably won't return to it very often, though.

Although… although…I am liking it more, at the end of bottle #2. Maybe I'll be a rootin' tooting' booster before too long.

feloniousmonk, Oct 02, 2012
Photo of mikeradebaugh
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

mikeradebaugh, Sep 27, 2012
Photo of hyoung41
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

hyoung41, Sep 27, 2012
Photo of GossageBrewery
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this 12 oz Weissbier into a pint glass. Poured a cloudy straw color, and produced an average white head. Featured average retention and it left a nice amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma had a base of malted wheat, lemon rind. Medium in body, this brew had a classic malted wheat base, and the tart flavor of lactic acid due to the sour mash process that was used to brew this beer. By far, not the best sour beer that I have had, but is an excellent gateway into the category. Nice session beer. Excellent summer beer. I would order this again.

GossageBrewery, Sep 26, 2012
Photo of 6demonbag
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

6demonbag, Sep 23, 2012
Photo of ryancl
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%

ryancl, Sep 23, 2012
Photo of DaveOB
4/5  rDev +14%

DaveOB, Sep 22, 2012
Photo of JPortillo
2/5  rDev -43%

JPortillo, Sep 22, 2012
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,796 ratings.