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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.

1,796 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
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Ratings: 1,796 | Reviews: 543 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DannyDan
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Pours a clear golden yellow with a thin white head that has little retention and hardly any lacing, but has very good carbonation.
S. The smell is lemons, some grassy and grainy hops, and a slight wheat smell.
T. The taste is some lemon, grassy hops, some wheat,and some floral hops.
M/D. The mouthfeel is a smooth light bodied crisp clean feel that is a nice easy drinking beer.

DannyDan, Feb 03, 2011
Photo of ptykozoon
2.95/5  rDev -16%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours one of the lightest yellows ever. Head fizzles quickly. 3 or 4 bubbles race to the top.

Light urine at first then the honey hits. Nothing but honey.

Watery honey with nice carbonation.

Spritzy carbonation makes this beer drinkable.

Reminded me a lot of a sweeter Corona. This beer has its place on a hot day but for the most part is weak, flavorless and uncomplex. I would understand this beer better if it had a somewhat pleasing taste, alas it's pretty much meh, not terrible, not loveable - the definition of a C beer for me.

ptykozoon, Jan 31, 2011
Photo of alexgash
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Batch #9861.

Very clear lemon yellow body. Finger of slightly fizzy, eggshell white head. Very moderate lacing. Herbal, grassy notes in front of slightly tangy, honeyish wheat malt. Light apple in there as well. Grassy funk pervades.

Light toasted grain notes initially. Apple and honey wheat malt follows, with a lemony, slightly sourish edge. Herbal, somewhat peppery, grassy hop finish, with lingering tart lemon acidity. Light body with a sparkly feel. Not overwhelmingly complex, but a nice refreshing beer.

alexgash, Jan 30, 2011
Photo of titosupertramp
3.43/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Light gold, decent carbonation. If you handed me a glass of this and told me it was a Budweiser, I probably wouldn't catch it. Maybe a little hazier than a lager.

S: Lemony and tart.

T: Same as the nose, but with more of a grainy taste. Some sweetness...has almost a champagne quality to it. I don't normally enjoy wheat beers, but this isn't half bad.

M: Bubbly. Full for such a light beer.

D: Easy drinking, but the carbonation might make this tought to drink more than a couple in one sitting.

I don't like wheat beers, but I tried to review this as objectively as I could. I think for the style, Bell's did a pretty good job.


titosupertramp, Jan 29, 2011
Photo of Tballz420
3.98/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very pale straw colored brew. Small white head. Fair amount of rising carbonation. Scent is mainly a light sweet scent, maybe a hint of sourness or something. Taste is pretty cool, its like a light filtered wheat with some light sourness, probably from the yeast. Light bodied. Very nice light filtered wheat

Tballz420, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of stakem
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle picked up at Al's of Hampden as part of a mix-a-six. I have been meaning to try this brew for awhile and finally getting around to it tonight. Bottle is from batch #9934.

Poured into a shaped pint glass this brew appears a clear light golden yellow color with some fine particles stuck floating in suspension. A finger of big bubbly fizzy white head appears and quickly recedes to a thin film stretched across the top. The bubbles hang close to the edge of the glass and stick there supported by constantly rising bubbles.

The aroma of this brew is fresh and grainy with a scent of wheat. However, there is a lemony note that does a fairly good job of almost covering up the grain smell. There is a light sourish funky note in the nose that brings this brew all together as it warms but could be a little more pronounced to give the nose more depth. The lemony aspect seemingly dominates most of the character of this brew.

The taste of this offering is tart with a lemony flavor right upfront. There is a fresh grainy flavor that fills the middle of the profile out and finishes with a wheat taste that lingers in the mouth. This isn't really a sour beer per-se but it is very thirst quenching and includes a balance of enjoyable light flavors. This brew plays an interesting twist on your tongue. Some sips are tart and lemony while others are grainy and sweet, regardless it is enjoyable.

This is light bodied and prickly with a high level of carbonation. Very easy drinking with an alcohol level that is quite suppressed making this very sessionable. The sour mashing aspect is evident throughout this brew and the face that it is a light wheat beer has me sold that this is a berliner weisse more so than an american pale wheat ale. I will be picking plenty of this brew up come summertime.

stakem, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of garymuchow
3.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottles 8/16/10 - #9861. Still within the recommended window.
Having with lunch on this very cold January day.
Pours light and mostly clear and shows virtually no head. Golden yellow.
Pale wheat malt aroma with virtually no hop aroma to speak of. Slightly grainy and little bit of bread.
Oooo, tart, yet smooth and finishes clean for style. Ample carbonation is prickly on the tongue. Just a tad of bitterness.
Bigger than I anticipated for feel. Little sour fruit.
Fine for what it is, but not very interesting. Nothing to make it separate from others in category. Still a good drink for a light lunch or warm afternoon.

garymuchow, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of StoutHunter
3.2/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

StoutHunter, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of FLBeerGuy
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

FLBeerGuy, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of projectflam86
2.98/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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.

projectflam86, Jan 20, 2011
Photo of Handy50322
4.68/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Handy50322, Jan 19, 2011
Photo of Lothore
2.53/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

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.

Lothore, Jan 16, 2011
Photo of Dodo2step
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Dodo2step, Jan 16, 2011
Photo of birchstick
2.28/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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...

birchstick, Jan 15, 2011
Photo of gopens44
3.78/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

gopens44, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Georgiabeer, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of hardy008
2.58/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

hardy008, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of corby112
2.68/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

corby112, Jan 10, 2011
Photo of TCgoalie
3.53/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

TCgoalie, Jan 10, 2011
Photo of mikereaser
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

mikereaser, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of prdstmnky
4.31/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

*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.)

prdstmnky, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of AwYeh
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

AwYeh, Jan 03, 2011
Photo of ddahlen
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

ddahlen, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of thebierbrewery
4.38/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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

thebierbrewery, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of sweemzander
3.18/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

sweemzander, Dec 31, 2010
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,796 ratings.