1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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.
BA SCORE
80
good

1,713 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,713
Reviews: 539
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 64
Gots: 110 | 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: 1,713 | Reviews: 539 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

DefenCorps, Apr 14, 2011
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.

ksbeernuts, Apr 13, 2011
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.

bum732, Apr 11, 2011
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.

machostacos, Apr 10, 2011
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.

Knapp85, Apr 09, 2011
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.

amccormi, Apr 07, 2011
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!

4DAloveofSTOUT, Apr 01, 2011
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.

brewdub17, Mar 31, 2011
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.

BeerLover99, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of PreacherBrewer
3.3/5  rDev -6%

A - Pours a pale, slightly cloudy "radioactive" yellow. Much like Pineapple juice. No head. Just fizzy white bubbles that leave no lacing.

S - Musty, faintly lemonesque, fresh wheat.

T - Faint hints of fresh grain, subtle maltiness, and a sour finish. Some light citrus fruit character is present. Tastes like a pino grigio crossed with a wheat ale.

M - quite light and drinkable. The sourness does make things intersteing, but could wear out your pallete depending on your mood.

O - A good session ale that keeps things intersesting. Not something I'd drink everyday, but something I could drink ALL day and still remain sober.

PreacherBrewer, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of stearns16
2.4/5  rDev -31.6%

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?

stearns16, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of PorterLambic
2.88/5  rDev -17.9%

Pours a pale, hazy yellow, much like pineapple juice. Little head to speak of with just a ring of tiny bubbles after 30 seconds. No lace.
Smell is sour, wheat, almost musty in the nose.
Taste is sour, decidedly so, with the more normal wheat beer notes in the back, malt, spice, banana, lemon.
Light/medium body, a very sharp effervescence, tart to the point of biting. A bread like note in the aftertaste. Listed as a sour ale at the bar, I was expecting something different. Nothing really bad here, just not what I expected. Tastes like someone squeezed a lemon in my wheat ale. Alright, I reckon.

PorterLambic, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%

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 jwinship83
3.1/5  rDev -11.7%

12oz bottle picked up on a whim as a single. drank from my samuel adams perfect pint glass.

A- this one pours out a translucent golden colored body with a large cap of bright white foam on top. the head lasts for a while and leaves behind large globs of lacing.

S- lots of bready malts packed into this 4.0% ABV beer. after that i get some lemon zest. thats about it.

T- the taste starts out with lots of bready malts that give it a mild sweetenss. after that i get some lemon zest and green apple skin. not much going on after that.

M- light bodied and highly carbonated.

O- although not my favorite style, the sour mash thing added an interesting twist. one i can see checking out again next season. i like the low alcohol aspect of it.

jwinship83, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of NODAK
3.93/5  rDev +12%

Aroma is of fairly tart lemon and not a lot more. Almost like a Berliner Weiss.

Taste is much of the same. It isn't overally tart to the point of being puckering, but more of a gentle citric acid lemony sourness. This is the dominant taste throughout the beer from the start. At the finish, a good amount of soft wheat is noticeable and helps cushion and pair with the tartness at the finish.

It's a good session beer, though I would fear my acid reflux issue coming into play if I had very many. As long as a person doesn't mind this particular style, they will probably find it a refreshing and simple beer. I really enjoyed this one.

NODAK, Mar 23, 2011
Photo of PEIhop
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%

A - Poured a somewhat clear, straw color with almost no apparent carbonation.

S - Very distinct lemon (zest) with ample wheat aroma.

T - Lemon with a very nice tartness.

M - Much more carbonation than it appears. Extremely refreshing and light.

D - A nice interpretation of a wheat ale. With its sessionability and enticing sour notes, it is must try.

PEIhop, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of pzrhsau
3.43/5  rDev -2.3%

A: Nice light golden color, slightly yellowish with a lace of head.
S: Slightly sour bread with wheat and pale malt notes.
T: Has some slight sour and fruity notes. Some good full wheat flavor that has a good bready finish.
D/M: Crisp and drinkable. Not too sour, slightly sweet and drinkable.

pzrhsau, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of pweis909
4.25/5  rDev +21.1%

Pale and perfectly transparent in appearance, my beer lacks head retention and lacing. The faint dought aroma offers little hint of what is to follow. The taste is pleasantly sour up front with a light malt undertone at the finish. It is not as sour as a Berlinerweiss, and leaves a prickly mouthfeel. Quite drinkable.

pweis909, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of BarrytheBear
4.33/5  rDev +23.4%

12 oz bottle pours a near crystal clear straw yellow with a thin head that diminishes to a narrow collar

Smells a musty, funky, dirty, mild lemon

Grainy, mild tartness, lemon, and funk. This is really enjoyable for what it is. Not quite a wheat, which is fine. Not quite a Berliner, which is a bummer.

Snappy, moderate carbonation and ample mouthfeel. Sessionable....though I despise the term. Could, and have drunk these en masse, all while maintaining an Old Spice-like coolness. Well done, Bell's.

BarrytheBear, Mar 17, 2011
Photo of Spider889
3.65/5  rDev +4%

Batch 10033, this was bottled on Oct. 20th, so it's not fresh, but the website claims a shelf life of 6 months. Live review.

This is a beer that's been on my radar for a while. First I heard some bad things, then good, finally I can decide for myself.

Pours a really pale straw color. It almost appears transparent coming from the bottle, though it does settle with some color in my DFH pint glass. The head is a meager white dusting that doesn't really last all that long. No bother, the crystal clarity of this beer is plenty to appreciate.

The smell at first struck me as mildly skunked (which I suppose is possible given how long this sat on a store shelf - Heinen's in Twinsburg I believe). After more careful consideration I believe that I ought to retract that statement, or, at least mostly.

Peppery yeast and dry crackery wheat make up the majority of the aroma. There's a mild bit of herbal bitterness that I must assume is from the hops.

The taste is quite impressive for several reasons:
-this is a pale wheat ale, a typically lackluster style
-the aroma isn't all too inviting
-it delivers exactly what is stated on the bottle/website

Oarsman is initially like digging deep into raw sourdough. There's a strong rush of sticky white bread over strong carbonation that tasted like mineral water or seltzer. Then comes the sour character - it's certainly nothing in your face or outright powerful, but there's also enough there to really make this a beer worth drinking. In fact, minus the sourness I wouldn't really care for this much at all. The finish is flush with creamy wheat.

Overall this isn't anything that will blow your socks off, but it does a good job of being a thirst quencher and palate refresher. I will be looking to try this again sometime really fresh.

Spider889, Mar 16, 2011
Photo of Keffa
3.58/5  rDev +2%

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Hennepin glass. Didn't look at batch number, but I know it's past 10k :P

A: Pours a bright and very slightly hazy straw yellow, 1 finger head recedes so quickly that if I wouldn't have seen the head, I would have thought it didn't exist. Very thin ring around the edge. No real lacing. Meh.

S: A very light sweetness, some yeast, a little bit of a wheat spiciness, and then the pale grain just takes over. Cracker like malt. No real hop aroma to me. Slight lemon notes.

T: The sweetness again is very light, nice slightly tart notes throughout, wheat twang, dry cracker like malt, again, and light floral hop toward the background. Little bit of a lemon note. Grainy.

M: Thin, light body, prickly carbonation. Lightly creamy at times though. Odd.

D: Very. Not overly offensive, and very light on the palate and a very lightly tart, slightly drying finish. ABV is undetectable.

This one is a bit odd, but is much better as a wheat beer than Oberon, IMO. This one in the summer would be awesome. The flavor could be much better, but as something to drink with food, not a bad choice, and the grainy flavors that come out will be familiar to BMC drinkers. Might be a good choice to get newbies started on :)

Keffa, Mar 15, 2011
Photo of WVRadar
3.73/5  rDev +6.3%

I expected more of a head from this beer. About 1/4" white which rapidly diminished to a thin ring around the top. Clear, pale gold with lots of bubbles rising to the top, good lacing. Initial tart taste, didn't detect much hop presence. For an ale, this tastes an awful lot like a lager. Light, fizzy mouthfeel. Goes down pretty easy, I could drink a few of these.

WVRadar, Mar 12, 2011
Photo of champ103
2.4/5  rDev -31.6%

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.

champ103, Mar 11, 2011
Photo of elgiacomo
3.35/5  rDev -4.6%

12oz bottle, batch 9934, bottled Sept 20, 2010.

Pours light cloudy pale yellow/gold with a small, short-lived fizzy white head that recedes to a faint cap.

Aroma is lemon, wheat, grains, light banana, citrus and spice, herbal notes. Moderate strength.

Flavor starts with grains, wheat, some light fruit then hits with a strong lemony tart sourness, some sweetness that is scrubbed away by sharp tartness.

Mouthfeel is light, oily, heavy prickly carbonation.

In the words of Larry David: "Intresting". A funky mash-up of a Pale Lager, Wheat Beer, and Sour.

elgiacomo, Mar 07, 2011
Photo of portia99
2.88/5  rDev -17.9%

12oz bottle (batch 10033) gifted to me by nonstick. Thanks Chris! Poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A - Pours a 90% clear, pale straw yellow color with a finger of fizzy white head that drops quickly to the surface. Only a small, uneven collar remains and the mildest trace of lacing is left on the glass.

S - Earthy, dirtlike and grainy. Smells a little like burnt rubber. Not at all what I was expecting and a little bit...well a good bit off to me.

T - A bit different too...sweet, wheaty, grainy with some distinct tartness to it. Lemony flavor comes on in the middle and lingers into the grainy and rubbery finish. Better than it sounds, but still a bit unusual in an off way.

M - Thin, grainy and tart...crisp and refreshing feel. Carbonation is medium high. Wheat is prominent all around.

D - Hmm, if it wasn't for the tire warehouse-like nuances in here this would be quite good. Light, tart, lemony...all good on a spring or summer day.

portia99, Mar 05, 2011
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,713 ratings.