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.

1,664 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,664
Reviews: 536
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 62
Gots: 100 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,664 | Reviews: 536 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of StoutHunter


3.2/5  rDev -8.8%

I picked this beer up a couple weeks ago at the store. I haven't seen this brew around before and I know its a new beer from bell's, so I got to try it. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a pint glass.

A- I like the artwork on this bottle, its quite different then most of their labels. This beer poured a pale golden color with two fingers worth of white head that died down to a thin ring.

S- I pick up a slight hint of citrus but for the most part it smells like a light macro lager.

T- Just like the aroma, mainly typical light lager flavors with a couple drops of lemon juice which make it finish a little tart.

M- Thin and overly carbonated. Finishes crisp, could make a good sumertime thirst quencher.

D- Well this beer is light, so its pretty drinkable, but the flavors really don't convince me to keep drinking it.

Overall I thought this was a pretty average brew. I see what bell's was going for, but I feel like this beer could have had a tad more wheat flavor to help balance it out. I will probably revisit this beer in the summer but till then I stick to more flavorful beer.

01-21-2011 04:28:25 | More by StoutHunter
Photo of FLBeerGuy


3.85/5  rDev +9.7%

Pours a golden color, looks a lot like ginger ale with a thin white head that leaves very little lacing.

Nose is sour with hints of fruit.

Taste is sour lemon with some good carbonation. A very thirst quenching beer.

I think this should be reclassified as a Berliner Weissbier. If you read the description of the style, this one fits it. A decent interpretation of this style.

Very drinkable, a good session beer for a hot day.

01-21-2011 01:13:25 | More by FLBeerGuy
Photo of projectflam86


2.98/5  rDev -15.1%

A- Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a thin white foam head that doesn't leave much lace.

S- Slightly fruity with some grain and sweet malt scents.

T- A bit tart initially with a sweet finish. Not much flavor or substance but nothing really off about it either.

M- Light bodied with ok carbonation.

D- Probably one I would pass on again.

01-20-2011 00:37:18 | More by projectflam86
Photo of Handy50322


4.68/5  rDev +33.3%

This is a Beer that I have been looking for. The appearance was light, it is only 4% and has wheat so it is very light gold in color.
The smell is slightly sour, so I was expecting a very refreshing sensation.
The taste said it all. It had the wheat flavor with the sour of a great European Ale.
The mouth feel was light and the head vanished quickly.
A Great Session Beer! Finally something to enjoy without sacrificing my sobriety so quickly.

01-19-2011 03:28:13 | More by Handy50322
Photo of Lothore


2.53/5  rDev -27.9%

A- Pours a yellowish hue with a thin, off white head.

S- Smell is slightly sour, hints of lighter fruit, bready.

T- Taste is tart and bready with hints of lemon.

M- Medium bodied with a good deal of carbonatin.

D- I really disliked this beer. The tartness, while intentional, really didn't mesh well for me. Won't be drinking this again.

01-16-2011 10:30:07 | More by Lothore
Photo of Dodo2step


3.03/5  rDev -13.7%

P- Al's of Hampden

A- A thick luscious head that is about a finger and half. A scatter lacing but it doesnt stay too long. a pale yellow color that is clear. No highlights.

S- sour malts and wheaty lemongrass.

T- very tart/sour/lemon. It tastes like i bit into a lemon. salty malty as well.

M- sour and crisp. Wheat and malty. feels like an iron city

D- it was a struggle to get through this. not one to purchase as a sit down beer. This would be a cheapy purchase.

01-16-2011 01:33:02 | More by Dodo2step
Photo of birchstick


2.28/5  rDev -35%

A - pours a clear yellow with a one finger white head

S - smells pretty bad - sour wheat malts and loads of corn and grain

T - luckily, the taste is better than the nose. A very nice lemon flavor is first on the palate. This fades to wheat and finishes is bready malts. A little weak for the style.

M - spritzy carbonation burns the throat as it down down. Decent body to it.

D - I am surprised this one came from Bell's. This is a pretty weak APWA...really grainy and bready with a good, but very artificial, lemon flavor throughout it. I think I'll go with a two hearted next time...

01-15-2011 22:38:29 | More by birchstick
Photo of gopens44


3.78/5  rDev +7.7%

A - Clear straw colored with a quick fading head that became nothing more than a thin bubble film

S - Malty and yeasty. That's all I could find.

T - Very, very, VERY tart with a sour finish. Yeasty like undercooked pizza dough.

M - Thin, dry, highly carbonated.

This one took some time to get used to. At first I considered dumping it, but after a few more swigs I was glad I didn't. After my palate adjusted, this became fairly enjoyable.

01-14-2011 13:33:27 | More by gopens44
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.1/5  rDev +16.8%

I had hesitated getting any of this, sure it would be another boring pale wheat. Only when stumbled upon the fact that it was a sourmash wheat did I get interested. Essentially, this an American spin on a Berliner Weiss, with nice lactic notes and a clean, crisp, sparkling sourness. It's not as tart as the best of the Berliners, and its more sparkly and lighter. There is also a very slight sweet breadiness in the finish, which doesn't come through at all in the mouthfeel, but does in the taste. The only other sourmash wheat I've had is the one from Moonlight, and this one is much less grainy and cleaner tasting. I suppose Telegraph wheat bears a passing resemblance as well. I think this is bound to be a misunderstood beer, and I'm not surprised to see scores all over the place. Personally, I "get" this beer and enjoy it. A very pleasant surprise.

01-14-2011 03:29:13 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of hardy008


2.58/5  rDev -26.5%

Pale gold with a white 2 finger head which fades quickly. No lacing. The aroma has tart lemon and bread.

The flavor also has tart lemon and bread. It is not sweet or bitter. It is almost like drinking liquid bread with a twist of lemon. Meh.

Light bodied, average carbonation. No aftertaste. Pretty easy to drink. I'm glad I had a chance to try this. Decent, but at the same time, this does not impress me much.

01-14-2011 02:44:26 | More by hardy008
Photo of corby112


2.68/5  rDev -23.6%

Pours a slightly cloudy, very pale golden yellow color that looks like urine in all honesty and a two finger frothy white head that has decent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing.

Slightly funky, earthy aroma with hints of soil, bready yeast, earthy hops, wheat and lemon zest.

Medium bodied with tight carbonation up front followed by a slightly tart, spicy yet sweet flavor. A decent amount of bready yeast adds to the feel and there is a decent amount of citrus fruit. The prominent flavor is lemon juice with hints of pepper and clove. This beer is refreshing and easy to drink but it tastes like a lemon juice spritzer. I guess I could down a bunch of these on a hot summer day but I don't really like the flavor or the dry lingering tart citrus finish.

01-10-2011 06:26:30 | More by corby112
Photo of TCgoalie


3.53/5  rDev +0.6%

Thank you Kyle for this one...

Pours a bright pale yellow. Not much is exciting about viewing this one except for the color. Some bubbles clump at the top but other than that, no head or lacing.

The nose provides dusty, yeasty, and sour smells.

The flavor is light with a wheat/yeast profile holding up some sourness.

Mouthfeel wise, this is light in the mouth with a clean aftertaste.

This is very drinkable and would be perfect on a hot summer day.

01-10-2011 00:51:53 | More by TCgoalie
Photo of mikereaser


4/5  rDev +14%

Poured into my Ithaca Brewing tulip on 1/8/11

Pours a light golden yellow with a big white cap that took its time fading. The aroma is a nice mix of straw with some lemon and wheat notes. Not overpowering. This is starting to remind me of a berliner weisse, definitely not a wild ale. Slight amount of sourness but not puckery. tart lemons with that straw to wheat grains. Nice crsip carbonation with a light body and mouthfeel. This is a great beer for a summer day or night. This definitely leans toward berliner weisse.

01-09-2011 04:13:17 | More by mikereaser
Photo of prdstmnky


4.31/5  rDev +22.8%

*review from notes on 11/2/10*

Batch #9934

Poured into a unbranded tulip, this ale has a light lemon yellow body. It is clear, with lots of bubbles rising up, maybe a 1/2 inch of head that fades quickly leaving no lacing. Some lemon and wheat notes in the smell, a bit tart, nice. Taste is just what my nose led me to believe but more pronounced...tart lemons and wheat with perhaps a touch of pepper - has a very nice flavor to it. Lighter bodied, and fairly dry, but very refreshing. Certainly not a Wild Ale, so really just reviewed it to taste - a nice, sessionable wheat beer (more like a berliner imo.)

01-04-2011 02:13:06 | More by prdstmnky
Photo of AwYeh


3.33/5  rDev -5.1%

A: Pours a light golden-yellow with one inch of bright white head, which dissipates quickly.

S: Smell is very weak, of doughy yeast and wheat.

T: Taste is decent; again a very light wheat flavor is prominent, with a subtle tartness.

M: Body is very thin and light, with average carbonation.

D: Extremely drinkable. This reminds me a lot of Bells' Lager of the Lakes; I think it could be a good gateway beer for a macro drinker to gain interest in the world of craft beer.

Worth checking out as in my experience this is a pretty unique beer- tart, but light and intended for sessioning.

01-03-2011 13:55:45 | More by AwYeh
Photo of ddahlen


3.93/5  rDev +12%

Appearance - Poured into a pitnt glass. 2 finger head, dissipates quickly. Straw yellow color. One of the lightest colored craft brews i've seen.
Nose - Peppery, sour grape notes, lemon citrus as well
Taste - Light citrusy sourness, minimal malt presence.
Mouthfeel - Light, moderate carbonation
Drinkability - Crisp, refreshing, clean.

Overall - An nice refreshing brew. A perfect brew for a hot summer day out on the lake, or possibly by the grill. Not really something I'd drink in early January which it is right now, but good nonetheless.

01-02-2011 20:07:37 | More by ddahlen
Photo of thebierbrewery


4.38/5  rDev +24.8%

A- Light straw color, slightly hazy, slight head retention

S- Citrusy, lemony smell. Very slight hop aroma, but balanced between malt and hops

T- Nice sourness that doesn't linger, finishes very crisp. Great balance and crispness that is extremely refreshing

M- Very light, acidic and carbonic

D- Very drinkable and thirst quenching on a hot summer day. The slight sourness is what makes this beer great

01-01-2011 22:52:55 | More by thebierbrewery
Photo of sweemzander


3.18/5  rDev -9.4%

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Batch #9861 (Aug. 16,2010).

(A)- Pours a hazy pale straw yellow color that produced a good frothy white head with decent retention. Minimal lacing.

(S)- A bit dry, with some subtle hay/straw notes. Plenty of a sour lemon acidity, hints of wheat or biscuits.

(T)- Very subtle sourness/acidity. Some tart lemons with dry hay/straw and wheat.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Light and very subtle tartness. Crisp and refreshing.

(D)- A wild ale? More like a Berliner Weisse in my opinion. It has a nice light tartness to it, but otherwise a very mild/light-bodied beer that drinks more like a lager, but an easy drinking one at that.

12-31-2010 21:10:12 | More by sweemzander
Photo of ChainGangGuy


3.85/5  rDev +9.7%

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.

12-30-2010 16:17:11 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of afksports

New York

3.15/5  rDev -10.3%

It's good to know that not all American Wild Ales are the same. If I were sitting on a fishing boat and didn't feel like drinking barley pop (aka Budweiser), then this one might hit the spot for a long day repeating easy-drinker. But I'm not on a boat. Not even with T-Pain.

It's got a pale look to it, straw, solid carbonation and moderate head that dissipates. Smells tart, not really sour, just a bit of sweetness. Very uninspiring. Taste follows the nose, and while it has character, it tastes more of water than anything else.

It's average in the mouth, while the carbonation holds, and it's about as drinkable as a Miller Lite. The Oarsman is just made by Bell's.

So you can feel better while drinking it.

12-30-2010 04:16:42 | More by afksports
Photo of cjacobsen


2.5/5  rDev -28.8%

Pours a clear, yellow color, almost like water with beer in it. Big bubbled head on it that quickly vanished. No lacing.

Smells light with apple and pear. Smells almost like a white wine or champagne.

Tastes like a homebrew that didn't quite reach maturation and has poor carbonation. Tastes tart, wine like and very pale. Has a flat aspect to it. There's no exciting flavor to it.

The mouthfeel is pretty bland. Not much of anything going on.

I hope to God this was a bad bottle and will definitely pick up another at some point. I've heard things about the oarsman and they've all been positive. This one however, is one oarsman that out to sea without his oars.... haha, wow.

12-30-2010 01:31:24 | More by cjacobsen
Photo of TheKingofWichita

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +14%

Pours a cloudy wheat yellow orange color with a thick white head and tons of lacing. Smells of apples, citrus, and wheat. Tastes of sour apple flavor, wheat malts, some hops, and a little orange. Mouthfeel is medium with a good carbonation background. Drinkability is high.

12-28-2010 21:04:50 | More by TheKingofWichita
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

2.63/5  rDev -25.1%

This American wild ale leaves the bottle with a hard pour to produce a dark yellowish brew. The white cap of foam above vanishes, I mean vanishes, quickly. Within a few minutes there are no bubbles to speak of. A that is left in the glass is a conical cylinder of dark yellow liquid.

The aroma consists of sour apple and musty vinegar. As it warms, a small component of the aroma moves toward an acidic mixture reminiscent of vomit. Thankfully this is not a strong characteristic.

The palate is medium and wet, probably the best part of the beer. A very small touch of malt is present in the flavor. This is quickly overwhelmed by sourness. A sourness that is trying to be the tasty refreshing funk of an excellent Belgian but falls short. There is an off character in this beer. The sourness--whether it be lemony or vinegar unripe apple--is not the pleasant kind.

Into the second bottle--I bought a six pack and must soldier on--the beer seems to improve. On second thought, though, what doesn't?

12-28-2010 01:44:39 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of vette2006c5r

South Dakota

1.73/5  rDev -50.7%

This beer poured an almost straw yellow color, wit very small head that dispated quickly. The smell was minimal. The taste was rather stale, and there was hints of some lemon, or other citrus. I found the taste offensive and unpleasent, and I couldnt even finish one. Overall I found this horrible, and I was disapointed that such an abolation from my one of my favirote brewers could be sold.

12-28-2010 00:09:09 | More by vette2006c5r
Photo of number1bum


3.28/5  rDev -6.6%

Thanks to mymrnngjckt for this bottle.

Pours a clear light golden color with about a finger and a half of off-white, somewhat fizzy head. Doesn't keep a full lace or leave much stick.

Smell is light with a lemony tartness and some grain. It's somewhat bready, with a bit of spice and grass as well.

Taste has a grainy bready base with a very subtle cracker-like sweetness, and then features the lemony tartness that the nose had as well. It's like a lighter version of a Berliner Weiss, with less tartness and overall less flavor. A bit of a graininess in the finish. It's light to the point of being thin and somewhat bland.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp, smooth and clean, thin in terms of flavor.

This is decent and a pretty easy drinker, but it's also a bit boring and thin. Less flavor than other Berliner Weiss beers I have had, with only minimal tartness. An interesting attempt by Bell's, but not a huge success in my opinion.

12-22-2010 01:52:04 | More by number1bum
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,664 ratings.