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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.

1,679 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,679
Reviews: 537
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 64
Gots: 104 | FT: 1
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: 1,679 | Reviews: 537 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pmarlowe

District of Columbia

2.03/5  rDev -42.2%

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.

05-22-2011 04:11:55 | More by pmarlowe
Photo of SirSketch


3.65/5  rDev +4%

A - Sparkling white head disappears quickly. Pale yellow color (maybe 2 SRM) and hazy.

S - Very mild aroma, consisting of wheat cereal and acidic fruit, mainly pear.

T - The tartness brings out some malt flavor that wouldn't otherwise be there. Balanced well between sweet and sour. The malt has a granola taste, also. The beer ends on a lemon note and some floral hops.

M - Very light mouth, though the sugary tartness makes it seem fuller. Could be a bit more carbonated.

O - Refreshing with a mellow flavor, but still keeps my interest. I wish more breweries made Berliner weisse.

05-18-2011 04:49:47 | More by SirSketch
Photo of airmike


2.65/5  rDev -24.5%

A: Very pale and light straw in color, not much head and it dissipated quickly.

S: Yeasty, sour, almost beer bread type smell

T: Puckering sour taste that diappears quickly leaving you thinking "What the hell was that!?!?" Makes you go back in for another drink to try and put your finger on it.

Overall, I'm not a fan. I don't like sour type beers at all and this seems to be all that this beer brings to the table. I respect Bell's and I can tell that this is well executed for the style and type of beer they were attempting to create, but it's just not my cup of tea so to speak.


05-14-2011 03:17:17 | More by airmike
Photo of JRed

New Jersey

3.08/5  rDev -12.3%

Cloudy pineapple juice body with fleeting white head that leaves some lacing. Aroma of slight wheat, subtle floral, and some unwanted impressions of vomit. Tastes of light fruit juice, wheat, floral notes, esters of banana or slight vanilla. Light bodied with light carbonation. Artificial flavors, nauseating aroma, annoyingly tart.

05-07-2011 03:51:15 | More by JRed
Photo of TheSevenDuffs

Ontario (Canada)

3.05/5  rDev -13.1%

Notes from 4/25/11. Batch 10066.
Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Pale straw yellow colour, translucent, 2 fingers of bubbly white head forms from the pour but quickly disappears.

S - Grainy/bready malts with a faint sour smell that slowy takes over the nose. A very slight hop presence in the background.

T - Sourness and tartness are the dominant flavours with some grainy/cereal notes present as well. The sourness is interesting - it is definitely there but does not take over the palate and forms a nice balance with the bready malts. The finish is tart but clean.

M - Light body, moderate carbonation.

O - An interesting beer. I enjoyed this one but I don't think I would buy this one again with other choices available.

04-30-2011 22:24:06 | More by TheSevenDuffs
Photo of ccrida


3.65/5  rDev +4%

Poured into my Schell's shaker pint, Oarsman is a a hazy straw yellow with a quickly dissipating white head leaving light scattered lace.

Smell is light, lacto sourness, a bit yeasty.

Taste is simple, a very light wheat ale with a tinge of lacto. Clean.

Mouthfeel is on the dry side, but with some nice creamy carbonation, very light bodied.

Drinkability high, a very quaffable, refreshing brew, it would be great in warm weather as well as with food, especially something spicy. I'd like a bit more pucker, but that would probably cut out some of the crowd.

04-28-2011 21:52:18 | More by ccrida
Photo of MrOH


2.48/5  rDev -29.3%

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.

04-26-2011 01:24:35 | More by MrOH
Photo of bnes09


3.28/5  rDev -6.6%

Transparent lemon yellow ale. Lots of bubbles. No head what-so-ever, no lacing either. Looks like sparkling lemon koolaid.

Smell of lemon and wheat. Slightly sour.

Begins with a mellow wheat character. Then the lemon tartness comes in and dominates for the rest of the drink. Some honey-like sweetness. Finishes clean.

Light bodied and somewhat over-carbonated.

It's ok. Too much emphasis on sour flavors in my opinion. Fairly drinkable though.

04-25-2011 21:36:26 | More by bnes09
Photo of mdaschaf


3.5/5  rDev -0.3%

Review from notes 4/22/11.

A: Pours a clear, light golden color with a smallish white head that dissipates rather quickly leaving a few spotty bubbles on top. Not much lacing to speak of at all.

S: The wheat dominates the aroma, heavier than others in the style. There is also some light fruit, mostly lemon, and an earthy aroma as well.

T: Slightly tart, with again lots of wheat. Some lemon and a little bit of apple show up.

M: Light bodied with moderate carbonation, slightly tart.

O: Certainly refreshing, a little heavy on the wheat. A good summer beer, but I would like to give it another shot at some point.

04-25-2011 00:35:17 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of Phinner


2.4/5  rDev -31.6%

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.

04-23-2011 23:07:48 | More by Phinner
Photo of dmfrench


3.35/5  rDev -4.6%

Very cherry/lemon tart, flavorful, oddball.

A: One crazy pale brew... body looks like Lynchburg Lemonade, somewhat hazy with some visible sediment trails. Head is about a finger and a half of pretty pure white suds that settles to a film in a few minutes.

S: Pale malt, some tart lemon, and a kind of soapy stale dishwater aroma. Not entirely pleasant.

T: Tartness is huge and unique, almost cherry-like, without the 'red' flavors. Not for everyone, but I personally find it interesting if not enjoyable. It has a very acidy lemon meringue vibe to it, but it is still quite light. Malt is very much in the background and is dry and biscuity.

M: Carbonation is at full cola level, which helps keep things light. Flatter, I could imagine that the tartness would become overbearing.

O: A bit of a strange one... great if you like tart cherries and lemons.

04-23-2011 21:52:57 | More by dmfrench
Photo of rootbeerman


3.83/5  rDev +9.1%

A: pours slightly hazy yellow. With a short lasting finger of foam.
S: an odd slightly sour wheat aroma. Somewhat metallic
T: nothing like it smells. Tart, a little lemony, with just enough sweetness to soften the tartness some. Very refreshing
M: very crisp and somewhat prickly carbonation.
O: certainly something sessionable. Another single I wish I had another one.

04-22-2011 09:02:41 | More by rootbeerman
Photo of rmalinowski4


4.18/5  rDev +19.1%

12 oz bottle batch #10237 poured into a chalice. Received as a gift from a non BA from work, thanks Tim.

Pours a clear straw yellow color with a 1 finger head. Head recedes quickly and leaves a small ring around the glass. You can see the bibles dancing up the side of the glass.

Smell is a slight sour/funk with a fruity undertone. Almost like sour lemonade.

Taste is very close to the smell. Lemon citrus, sour, a little funk, crisp and refreshing. Makes me want to have one sitting outside by the fire pit on a nice summer night.

The mouthfeel is light and lively. The carbonation is very nice for the flavor, you can feel the bubbles dancing on the palate. Very easy drinker.

Overall this is a very refreshing and enjoyable beer. I am a little new to sour/funky beers, but this reminds me of a light version of a lambic or gueuze. Would have this again.

04-22-2011 03:59:37 | More by rmalinowski4
Photo of Hoptometrist


3.23/5  rDev -8%

Served from the bottle into a becker glass.

A- Light pale yellow, high carbonation, and half a finger of white fizzy head. I guess you could call this yellow fizzy beer.

S- Not a very pleasant smell, smells mostly of a bad American Adjunct Lager with some sweetness.

T- This is a very interesting beer that grew on me as I drank more of it. Nice tart and sourness to the beer that I really enjoyed. However, the backbone of this beer is mostly a grainy American Adjunct Lager flavor, with a mildly unpleasing aftertaste. Notes of lemon zest are prominent as well.

M- Highly carbonated, crisp, and refreshing

O- Overall this is a strange beer for me. The tartness of this beer is very pleasing, but there is not much else going on here. It is designed to be a session beer and it is drinkable, but this beer needs a better backbone and the aroma was unpleasant. But in a strange way there is something about this beer that kinda works for me, it is very refreshing and pleasantly sour. I am a little new to sour beers, but I have always loved sour candy and this packs a nice sour punch. The sourness kinda dulls the graininess of the beer the more I drink it.

04-20-2011 20:36:40 | More by Hoptometrist
Photo of BradLikesBrew


4.25/5  rDev +21.1%

Pours a yellow-gold body with a thin white head.

Aroma is light, tart, and lemony.

Soft crackery grain, fresh lemon, and a zip of tart acid on the finish. Not funky or sour really, but the tart finish was unmistakable and very enjoyable. Acid makes my mouth water a bit, ultra refreshing.

Crisp, light, spritzy.

Oarsman is one of the best American Pale Wheat Ale I have ever had. Now, I do love me some Gumballhead and New Glarus makes a hoppy wheat beer that I love too, but Oarsman manages to be an amazing beer without steering very far from the typical American wheat beers that we have all become so bored with. It is light, simple, refreshing and low alcohol, but that little snap of acid makes it soooo good. The other American Wheat beers that I do like are really a new style of wheat beers, more like wheat based Pale Ales. Oarsmen is like a more interesting Easy Street or Bully Wheat. Or maybe its the American version of Berliner Weiss. But unlike the virtually extinct Berliner Weiss, Oarsman is actually available to consumers. My only complaint is that a $9.49 6pk is hard to think of like a session beer.

04-19-2011 23:27:39 | More by BradLikesBrew
Photo of bucklemyshoe


3.53/5  rDev +0.6%

12 oz bottle at 42 degrees into a Duvel tulip.

A: It pours a hazy yellow color with a finger of white head that dies quickly and does not lace at all.

S: Light lemon, and a little graininess.

T: Slighlty sour lemon zest and some late bitterness. No complexity really; this is just for refreshment.

M: The body is light and spritzy.

O: This is very drinkable and goes well with the war weather.

04-18-2011 02:52:17 | More by bucklemyshoe
Photo of DefenCorps


3.38/5  rDev -3.7%

Bottle, batch 10097, from Chevy Chase.

Pouring a light straw yellow with a thin, white head that rises briefly before falling off to a ring, this isn't the best looking beer. The nose is refreshing. Tart, mildly lactic with a raw, wheaty aroma with some mild rotting fruit present, this is pretty enjoyable. Very doughy, this is quite enjoyable. The palate opens with a blend of lactic and lemony tartness, both light, both refreshing. A little doughy on the mid-palate, there's some wheat that appears. The finish is disappointing, though. Watery and surprisingly bland, the acids disappear leaving no real sign of their presence, and the high carbonation does further scrub them right off. The watery finish also really shows off how light this beer is in body. Adding the yeast does alleviate this problem, but it introduces another - it muddles up the acidity and tartness. All told, a solid APWA, but not the best Berliner Weiss. Very drinkable, especially for the price.

04-14-2011 04:57:26 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of ksbeernuts


3.78/5  rDev +7.7%

S: Spicy clove. Also a white bread smell.

L: Hazy yellow sunshine color. White head.

T: Tangy with a little sour notes. Very drinkable.

M: Little mouthfeel with decent carbonation.

Overall a good session beer. With it at only 4% you can drink more than a few at a sitting. Good lawnmower beer.

04-13-2011 23:15:39 | More by ksbeernuts
Photo of bum732


2.8/5  rDev -20.2%

S: Wheat, doughy, some spiciness, clove to be exact.

L: Slight hazy straw yellow, bright white head that dissipates, ok lacing.

T: Tangy, fruitiness leads to a slight doughy finish. Little bitterness with a clean finish.

M: Medium light mouthfeel, tangy, medium-high carbonation.

Pretty boring. Not sure why they have this in the rotation when Oberon is similar but tastes way better in my opinion. oh well.

04-11-2011 01:46:09 | More by bum732
Photo of machostacos


4.15/5  rDev +18.2%

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. Batch 9934.

A: Wow, was not really expecting the incredible paleness. My first impression was "this is white." Clear with slight haziness (most likely chill haze) with a one-finger soapy white head that disappears quickly. Probably couldn't pick this one out of a lineup of your typical light lagers.

S: Has a light Belgian dubbel component - smells sour with a little yeasty banana & clove character, and of some bready wheat. The light sourness creates an almost vomit-like character ha (though, surprisingly enough, it's not really a bad thing here.) It's a little grassy as well with a very ethereal floral note.

T: Bright, tangy, and a little tart - lemon-lime with a zip. Kind of like Sprite, though tart with that wheaty character. I was a little worried from the aroma that I wouldn't much care for this beer, but it's very well-crafted and very refreshing and light on the palate. The tartness is very enjoyable and acts as a great palate cleanser. This is tasty on its own if you're looking for something light, and I can see it pairing very well with a ceasar salad, grilled salmon, or even a burger.

M: A little more full than you might expect from its appearance - fills the mouth and coats it well. The carbonation is very lively, which certainly is beneficial and desirable quality here.

O: I wasn't sure what to expect with this one - it was surprising in more ways than one and turned out to be a tasty and refreshing. Definitely a well-crafted uber-light session beer that would pair very nicely with a variety of dishes. Well done, Bell's.

04-10-2011 01:16:20 | More by machostacos
Photo of Knapp85


3.13/5  rDev -10.8%

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.

04-09-2011 23:14:02 | More by Knapp85
Photo of amccormi


3.85/5  rDev +9.7%

Poured from a bottle into 1/2 pint glass. Batch number 10205. Average pale gold, slightly hazy, rapidly disapearing had.

Light fruity aroma, slightly bisuity and a little bit of sour.

Flavor starts out with light malt, like crackers, a bit of fruityness. Slight green apple. Finishes slightly tart and dry.

Overall it is a great hot weather beer. Very easy going, very efreshing, very tasty.

04-07-2011 01:01:52 | More by amccormi
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT


3.83/5  rDev +9.1%

aggressive pour into a pint glass.

Appearance: an opaque slightly cloudy yellow color with a thin white head.

Smell: Sour citris, hay and a funky smell.

Taste: Lemon, orange and wheat. Sourness and hay. A slight herbal and grassy biterness for a moment that does not linger.

Mouthfeel: Light body with lively carbonation.

Overall: This is an impressive beer. I was not sure what to expect with this beer. I really enjoyed this beer I will be drinking this beer on those hot days of summer when a session beer is needed! Flavorful and light on the palate; it tastes very fresh!

04-01-2011 02:08:59 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of brewdub17


3.48/5  rDev -0.9%

Appearance: Darker piss-yellow with minimal bronze hues, with thin white head and little lace. Color is not bad but was expecting a better head consistency.

Smell: Sour lemon-like smell with a small amount of sweeter notes.

Taste: Very interesting and palate cleansing. Sour up front with a fruity body and a crisp sour finish. Not as balanced as I would have liked.

Mouthfeel: As said previously, very palate cleansing after the first initial sips have made the mouth accustom to it.

Overall: I'm always a fan of lower ABV beers and this one packs a good amount of flavor to style. Could have been better IMO but pleasantly surprising simultaneously.

03-31-2011 22:29:45 | More by brewdub17
Photo of BeerLover99


3.4/5  rDev -3.1%

A: deep golden body, 1 finger head, sparse lacing evident

S: mild sweet citrus, wheat, sour apple

T: trace subtle sweet, big sour with wheat

M: light body, slight sticky feel, low carbonation, mild dry

O: Not bad, glad I tried it, but don't know if I could have more than one. Seems like this is a good session brew for a cider/wheat ale fan. Not a must try, but you could do a lot worse.

03-30-2011 19:43:47 | More by BeerLover99
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,679 ratings.