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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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1,848 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 1,848
Reviews: 551
rAvg: 3.5
pDev: 16.29%
Wants: 73
Gots: 163 | 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:
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: 1,848 | Reviews: 551 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MrOH
2.49/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of bnes09
3.26/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of mdaschaf
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of Phinner
2.46/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of dmfrench
3.31/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of rootbeerman
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of rmalinowski4
4.13/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Hoptometrist
3.16/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.25/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.52/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of DefenCorps
3.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of ksbeernuts
3.77/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of bum732
2.83/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of machostacos
4.1/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Knapp85
3.08/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of amccormi
3.82/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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!

Photo of brewdub17
3.45/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of BeerLover99
3.38/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of PreacherBrewer
3.27/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of stearns16
2.38/5  rDev -32%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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?

Photo of PorterLambic
2.87/5  rDev -18%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

Photo of womencantsail
3.73/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jwinship83
3.09/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of NODAK
3.9/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,848 ratings.