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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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1,884 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,884
Reviews: 559
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 15.95%
Wants: 74
Gots: 176 | FT: 3
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:
Beer added by: Thorpe429 on 04-12-2009

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,884 | Reviews: 559
Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.2/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours slightly hazed with a straw gold/yellow color. The head is bright-white and a little rocky, before dwindling to faint traces at the edges of the beer. Lacing is minimal, if that.

Smell: Faintly tart, a slight snap of wheat, and tiny hints of hops floating throughout. The hops lend a slightly floral aroma to everything. The malts are mellow, leaning toward dry biscuits with a touch of earthiness on the back. Incredibly mellow and delicate. Nothing really plays too strongly over the nose. Nicely balanced.

Taste: Delightfully tart, but not aggressively so. The tart works well with the Subdued malts, bringing everything to a nice clean finish. Touches of the hops linger after the swallow, brightening everything up a touch. A little earthy as it warms, but it's a welcome compliment to everything else.

Mouthfeel: On the low side, but that's a good thing with this beer. The carbonation is nice and mellow, and allows the flavors to really pop. A touch dry after about half the beer, but again, it's welcome. If the carbonation were a touch higher, it would be too dry and distracting. As with every other aspect of this beer, it's well balanced.

Overall: Incredibly drinkable. This might be something I ask for in trades from now on. It's a little crisp, incredibly refreshing, and has the right balance of malt, hop, and sour/tart to keep things interesting. If this isn't a go to beer for the summer heat, I don't know what would be.

Photo of Greencoat
3.4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated 6/14/11 (good job with the dates, Bell's!)

A: Pours to a hazy straw color. Maybe 2-3 on the SRM scale. Quickly dissipating white head.

S: Very yeasty. Almost to an unpleasant level. I've had this beer plenty of time before and never noticed this. It's pungent enough to block out any other aromatics that might be able to come through.

T: Slightly tart, very lemony, very delicious. Low hop bitterness and very light malt character. Great citrus finish.

M: Thin body, lively carbonation, tart bitterness.

O: I had an odd experience with the nose on this bottle, but it didn't seem to affect the flavor profile. I will keep being a regular customer to this beer. Full of flavor for only being 4%abv. Great session beer!

Photo of steve8robin
2.71/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this on a recent trip. 12oz bottle...

A: A perfectly clear light golden color with a small white head that fades quickly to small bubbles on the brew. Good.

S: I get a malty breadiness upfront with a mild tart bitter hop scent. A clean malty scent on the backend. Ok.

T: A very wateriness upfront. A mild spicy hop with a malty finish. Very light brew. This is not really a typical Berliner Weiss. More of a golden ale.

M: Very light body with a light carbonation. A clean mild malt finish. Decent.

O: All in all, this is nothing special. In all honesty, this is a pounder. You could put a 6 pack of these down like water! Not much flavor and definitely categorized in the wrong category. Don't worry about this Bells brew.

Photo of slowbie
4.38/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with a nice three finger head with good retention.

Aroma is tart and lemony with a slight malt background.

Taste is more of the same as the aroma. A solidly detectable level of tartness but nowhere near the likes of a Cantillon.

Light, bubbly mouthfeel.

This beer isn't a Berliner Weiss, but to be fair, Bells has said that it's not. This is a fantastic summer beer. Tart enough to be interesting, light and drinkable enough to put down a six pack without thinking twice.

Photo of spitInTheOcean
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

nice hazy light yellow color. minimal head retention. medium effervescence.

smells a little sour. if im not mistaken it smells a little bready too.

i would say that sourness is more than light. the sourness is right up front in the beginning and dominates the flavor the whole time. the breadiness also becomes apparent in the finish.

very soft on the palate. kind of a crisp finish. very light. very refreshing.

overall, this is a very good beer. however, i do like the sour ales. if one does not, one will probably not enjoy this beer. i will be drinking more of it though.

thanks again larry bell.

Photo of enfield249
3.76/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear golden yellow, white head.

S - Sour aroma, slightly fruity and a little floral. Also a little sweet hard candy smell.

T - Sour, obvs, but also sweet and slightly fruity, like a green apple. Almost like a green apple jolly rancher.

M - Light, not to much CO2. Doesn't linger much.

O - Great summer beer. Light, sweet, sour and not to heavy. Really liked it.

Photo of Bierguy5
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, 4% abv. Looks like packaged on 6/14/11. Slightly hazy, very pale straw. White fizzy head trickles down to a thin layer very quickly. A little bit of patchwork in the lace department.

Cereal grains in the nose. A slight sharp, lactic sourness. A bit of a fruity component. Pretty simple.

Tartness hits first, but is sharp and not puckering. Slight grainy and husky feel. Lemon zest, with more tartness. Dries just a bit at the finish.

Light body, with refreshing carbonation. Very easy to drink. Very nice for hot weather.

Photo of Jwale73
4.15/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Thirstybird for sharing. Pours a pale hazy yellow with a loose, quarter inch bright white head. Head eventually dissipates into a soapy skim and a tight white band around the perimeter of the bowl. Nose expresses wheat, sour mash and a trace of citrus. Flavors are slightly bready with a light, lemony tartness. Mouthfeel is light in body with a pleasant, easy carbonation. A very refreshing berliner weisse. I wish this was available locally because it is a perfect session beer for summer - refreshing on a hot day.

Photo of shanblur
3.2/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Obtained at Frontier Liquors in Evansville at the Green River location. Poured from bottle into weizen glass.

A - Straw colored with a fluffy white head which dissipates quickly. Minimal to no lacing.

S - Wheat and lemon predominate with no hop aroma

T - Can taste the grain coming through, but also a nice refreshing sour lemon finish

M - Light in texture with minimal carbonation

Overall an average beer. I like the tartness in the finish. I can see this paired well with the right food, but would not drink again by itself.

Photo of DWilliams76
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From my weekend notes: Having trouble making up my mind about this beer. On the one hand, it’s fascinating, with a layered, rolling flavor that never stays in one place. On the other, it’s an underhopped, mildly sweet weak wheat beer. The former is based in curiosity, the latter in cynicism. The truth is closer to Famous Potatoes. In the end, the tartness keeps bringing me back, so I’m pretty sure I like this beer.

Photo of SummitVA
2.9/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Pale straw pour. Steady carbonation, smallish head that falls away quickly.

S - Huge sweet pils, unfermented wort, lemon, light corn scent, and some odd mineral character, almost liked charged water.

T - Sweet pils and corn dominate. Some roughness from the wheat, as well. Sweetness has a light indistinct berry taste as the glass warms. Crisp finish, with a bit of tartness.

M - Ultra-light.

O - Had a number of people suggest that this brew had a pleasant sourness that was remarkable for the price, but the overwhelming corn flavor and moderate tartness is not quite what I was expecting. This bottle comes across as a muddled Kolsch, but I'll definitely seek the beer out on draft and review again. Cheers,

Photo of raznug
3.88/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: A straw golden with 3/4" of pure white head.
Smell: Smells of sourness and tartness, slight maltiness in background.
Taste: A but of sourness with hints of malt.
Mouthfeel: Flows nicely in and around the mouth and tongue not too heavy not too light.
This is a good beginners sour that wont scare anyone away.

Photo of Boto
3.67/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draught @ Headkeeper: This one pours a cloudy, straw yellow color. There was a fairly small white head that dropped off rather quickly. No lacing. Nice aroma. Mainly lemon and wheat notes. The taste is also good. Decent wheat flavor and body. There is a bit of a tart lemon taste to the beer. Very refreshing and easy to drink.

Photo of Wadsey
3.64/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5


Served in New Belgium tulip. 

A: Pours lighter than pale straw, if that is possible. Great clarity. Head rises, but falls quickly. No retention or lacing, which is expected for style. Somewhat sparkling. 

S: Light lactic acid note, lemon and herbs. Mineral water. I'm really overstating smell with these descriptors as it is subtle, perhaps to a fault. 

T: Taste is bigger than smell, but not by much. A touch of sweetness then lactic sourness steps in. There is a slight wheat twang and lemony citrus, too. At times the taste is reminiscent of sourdough bread.  Light bitterness that tidies up palate. Crisp finish. 

M: Featherweight body and medium sparkling carbonation. Nice fizz on tongue. 

O: Oarsman's strength lies in its drinkability. It is also quite refreshing. Great sessionable beer that is light in body and relatively big in taste.  

Photo of Florida9
3.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Ultra light yellow in color. One of the lightest colored beers I've reviewed that isn't a macro. Forms a small, fluffy white head that slowly reduces down to absolutely nothing leaving a light, rather dull looking beer in the glass.

S: Grainy malt and sourdough bread. Some light lemon and green apple tartness.

T: First taste is unexpectedly tart, really more sour than tart as tartness would suggest a bright, crisp quality, whereras this beer seems to a have a sourness that is almost out of place. Grainy, fruity malts and some grassy hops. Aside the from the sourness, not much else.

M: Medium in bodied with lighter carbonation and an odd astringency that sticks to the tongue and mouth.

O: Can't say I cared for this one very much, but it was starting to grow on me a little.

Photo of secondtooth
4.14/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This cloudy yellow ale pours with a small head and no lace. Average presentation, but the nose says otherwise -- I get bread and orange peel. Promising.

The taste is surprising -- fruity malts up front, with tart citrus notes dancing around the tongue. The slightly hoppy finish closes it out with gracefulness. A delightful light beer for the warm months, and one I'd return to again.

Photo of zeledonia
4.14/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 10272, bottled 8 April 2011.

Pours a translucent pale straw yellow, scarecrow-like, with a minimal white head. Head retention is below-average, lacing is okay.

Smells warm and wheaty, with a bit of citrus. Hint of earthy hops late. After tasting it, I can pick up a bit of lemony tartness, but I missed that the first time around.

Wow, this is not what I expected - it's so much more. It's starts out with grainy, earthy wheat, before rolling into a fantastic slightly sour tart lemon flavor that carries on through the finish. A touch of bitter hops come in late, but they're no match for the tartness. Incredibly refreshing, in a very unexpected way. I love the tart flavor combined with the pale wheat malt backbone. Nice dry finish.

Medium-light body, high carbonation. It's fairly thin, but still gives the mouth a good coating, allowing that lovely tartness to linger in the mouth, before finishing smooth and dry.

This is simply a fantastic summer session beer. It's light-bodied, low ABV, and refreshing, but still incredibly flavorful. This is a revelation for me - I never would have designed a beer like this, but now that I've had it, it seems so obvious. I could drink it all day long.

Photo of strictly4DK
3.72/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a translucent pale, golden color with a 1/2 finger head. Dissipates to nothing, no lacing or a collar. Steady stream of bubbles, appears sparkly but surface is still with little head formation.

S - Pleasant but delicate. A light tart lemon and citric zest. Fresh baked bread and foreshadowing of a big wheat presence. Not akin to the typical American Pale Wheat offerings due to the lack of a hop presence and subtle notes.

T - Follows suit presenting mild, delicate flavors. Lemons sour and tart, light spicy clove flavors meld up front. Tart flavors tend to an almost lemon lime soda flavor as carbonation spikes midway through each sip. Finishes with big doughy bread flavors reminding me of a handful of Wheaties.

M - Carbonation starts light but spikes mid-palate creating the texture and body of a soda. Light to medium bodied. Could benefit greatly from a drier finish to complement the sour/tart citrus flavors.

O - This is a fantastic summer session beer coming in at 4% abv. While it has it's flaws both in finish and appearance, I find this beer extremely pleasant and light on the palate, which is fantastic for PA heat and humidity.

Photo of claspada
2.46/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

First off this beer pours a nice golden yellow but there is no head or lacing, a big knock down for me.
Aroma begins with very light graininess and bready notes, with a touch of light lemon/pear with light spice notes as well. Really awful to be honest; smells like a slightly sour light American big 3 beer.
The taste is average as well with initial graininess and slight hop bitterness. There is a metallic aftertaste which is also off-putting, where is the sour... The finish is dry and crisp which is probably the only decent aspect of the beer. Adequate carbonation despite the lack of initial head/bubbles.
Overall this is not a good beer, even for a session beer. By far the worst beer I have had in a while. Back to the drawing board for Bells on this sessionable pale wheat ale.

Photo of TheSarge
3.05/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours okay for a thin white head that dissipate quickly, and has a light golden colored body with mild haze.

Aroma is like a sour pear and a hint of floral notes.

The taste is tart in the way of an under ripe Clementine, and mild wheat husk.

Feels light in body and a bit thin. A little crisp and wetting to the palate.

Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance-Pale light gold, 1/4 inch white head that slowly dissipates to barely anything, very little lacing.

Smell-Grainy/Grassy. Light citrus, lemon.

Taste-Slightly sweet, very light citrus and grain.

Mouthfeel-Extremely refreshing, great carbonation, light bodied.

Overall-Smell and Taste are nothing to go crazy about, but it's extremely easy to drink. Perfect carbonation, goes down easy. Alot of times Wheats are way overly carbonation, but this one very drinkable and smooth.

Photo of rebel1771
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very pale gold color with coarse carbonation and a head that fades quickly.

S: Yeasty sour aroma with a touch of coriander and lemon grass.

T: Sour flavor up front with a faint wheat flavor that comes in near the end.

O: Overall this is a really good brew. The sour flavor is refreshing in the same way lemonade is. I took a six of this fishing with me and it was awesome.

Photo of JunkYardJake
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle to weizen glass.
This is one of the palest wheat beers I've ever seen. It's a crystal clear yellow with a foamy white head. The nose is mostly wheat with a touch of soured lemon. The palate is susprisingly nice and refreshing. The wheat is still prevalent but the tart fruity notes are the main focus. Mouthfeel is fluid and finishes semi-dry and clean. Overall, this is an impressive brew that could serve as nice alternative to white wine.

Photo of FanofHefe
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a pint glass at the Global Brew Tap House in Edwardsville, IL. Light yellow, slightly hazy body with a one-finger bubbly white head. The head dissipates fairly qiuckly leaving no lacing.

Fairly muted aroma of grainy wheat and a little yeast spiciness. Not much else going on in the aroma department.

Luckily, the flavors definitely step it up a notch. Nice sour, tartness up front that is very tasty, especially for such a low abv. A minor blend of grain and a touch of sweet malt in the balance. Very enjoyable flavor.

Light mouthfeel that is very drinkable. Great, tasty, summer session beer.

Photo of Jishguy
2.03/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First bell's beer I've had that didn't blow me away.

A- Light golden. Almost yellow. Very minimal head and lacing.

S- Lemon, grassy, wheat, a hint of citrus and sweet malty character. There is this overwhelming sour smell in the background.

T- Tartness. Made me almost pucker at first sip. Tastes like someone squeezed a lemon into a pale ale. An emerging bread-like malt character comes through as the tartness fades.

M- Decent, actually. Good carbonation and creaminess. Goes down pretty smooth.

D- I couldn't drink more than one. It's just a bit sour for my taste.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,884 ratings.