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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.

1,815 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,815
Reviews: 544
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 68
Gots: 139 | 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: 1,815 | Reviews: 544 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of elgiacomo
3.35/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of portia99
2.88/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of ChadQuest
4.13/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

beer just looks tart, has that light straw color that makes you assume it's going to pucker. hope it does, well see. Head is dense looking.
The aroma has alot of spiced notes that remind me of a tripel, and grassy notes like a wheat beer, somewhere right in between the two. good stuff as i really enjoy both styles. There is some lemon smells too but not as prominant as i expected.
Alright, here is where the lemon notes come into play, the flavors have a great light clean finish, not super sour or puckering, just really clean and crisp, really awesome. i'm really impressed with this beer, this is an awesome beer for $10 6-packs. This summer i'm going to buy a case do doubt. I could probally go through it in a week without trying.

Photo of jsanford
4.08/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a Pint Glass. Batch 10033.

A - Pours a very light straw-gold with a lusciously creamy while head that receded to a thin haze. Nice retention, no lacing.
S - Crisp grain, wheat, citrus, and a slight lactic tartness. Similar to a Berliner Weisse.
T - More crisp wheat and lightly toasted grain with a bit of lemon zest and more lactic tartness.
M - Light bodied with a nice, creamy mouthfeel and crisp carbonation.
D - Incredibly drinkable, perfect for a refreshing hot day beer. Perfect amount of tartness, this would be a good into to the "sour world".

Photo of gford217
3.1/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle.

Extremely pale straw pour with a very fizzy white head that recedes immediately to a tiny stream of bubbles feeding a clump of foam in the middle.

Aroma is grainy with wheat and pale malts dominating. The sourness is faint and there is a light lemony aroma as well. Smells like stale Sprite.

Taste is very light with tart lemons, sour mash, pale malts and only a hint of wheat sweetness. Finish is dry.

The mouthfeel is light and fizzy with an acidic aftertaste,

This is pretty underwhelming honestly. The tartness keeps it from being an easy drinker but the complexity isn't there to keep it in the league of a solid Berliner or wild. Just not a fan of this one really.

Photo of waltonc
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours Budweiser gold with ample white head. Slight funk and tartness on the nose. Light lemony sourness on the palate. Taste is not as funky as the smell. Light bodied with refreshing high carbonation. An enjoyable session brew for a hot summer day. Wish I had regular access to this.

3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bells is my personal favorite of the Michigan based brewers. My expectation is a quality brew that is a close represenation of a particular style.

I was drawn to this brew as it was created as a "session" beer

A. Cloudy gold to pale yellow...little to no head.

S. Very little if any notes here..maybe a dust of citrus...generic

T. All I taste is sour....more lime than lemon..but almost like stale beer with lime..not what I expect from bells.

M. Feel is good...smooth...not creamy..refreshing

D. Very drinkable which I expected from the ABV...goes down easy and I could drink several..if I could only get past the foul taste.

Overall not impressed...I would like to try other primarily sour mash beer to compare.

If you are new to Bells try Two Hearted Ale...a fantasitc IPA.

Photo of Jesse13713
2.98/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to AwYeh for this one.

Appearance - Pours a cloudy golden, mostly opaque yellow. Looks like average carbonation. Absolutely no lacing.

Smell - Hard to get hints of anything here. Slightly citrusy and lemony. No presence of malts or gains in the nose.

Taste - Consistent and simple. A very slight tart on the tongue. A blast of orange and citrus on the finish A slight lemon-lime taste as well. Crisp. Little hop or ethanol taste. Slight grainy malts on the finish.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Very smooth and slightly bitter The finish is a very refreshing blast of orange and citrus. Tastes more of like an orange drink as opposed to a beer. It is quite good, though.

Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
2.68/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: pale yellow, just a wisp of a head, with only a fine rim of bubbles left around the edges. just a few strings of carbonation fizzle to the top.
S: pretty faint, but distinct lemony, grassy notes. id heard this one broke the mold a little bit, and right off the bat with the different tinge of the nose hairs, i get it.
T: theres really little to no malt or hop presence here, its just kind of a flattish lightly citrused brew. berlinerweiss comes to mind, but this really doesnt even really hit that mark. im kind of confused where the direction of this beer was headed.
M: once i get past the strangeness of this whole thing, i realize
at least that the relatively sharp carbonation brings it alive a little bit. this would probably taste and feel way better on a warm summer day.
D: doesnt drive me crazy. i probably will look for it again in the summer and give it another shot. the rock bottom ABV at least gives it potential to be very drinkable if i can get into it a little

Photo of dbossman
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pale straw colored with a 1 fingered white head; lacing is okay but not great; very bubbly

S: Very grainy with a tart lemon aroma; sour, grassy with some wet hay--pretty interesting smell

T: Pleasant, slightly sour and lemony tart flavors up front; grainy but overall just a lot of pleasant lemon tartness--almost like unsweetened lemonade--quite refreshing

F: Balanced body and carbonation

D: I don't understand the hate on this beer--maybe because it was incorrectly labeled as a wild (wtf?) for a while--but this is a very nice berliner-weisse-like wheat beer; I could drink these all day, especially in the summer. What a great, slightly tart, refreshing session beer!

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Bell's imperial pint.
4.0% ABV, 10831 Pkgd 01/20/12

A - Heavily carbonated slightly hazed pale straw yellow in color with a tall white head, Oarsman has moderate retention and some sticky lace left over.

S - Oarsman has a bland aroma consisting solely of pale malt, light wheat, and dry, grassy straw. A cold, hard mineral finish comes through with small nudges of acidity. This isn't a far departure to sea from the crap swill that fills the market today.

T - Slightly tart lemon citrus and wet wheat and straw give it some sort of flavor right away but it falls away a bit and becomes the bland pale flavor the aroma made it out to be. There isn't much interesting going on here.

M - Very light bodied and crisp with a mild tartness and heavily carbonated finish. Hard mineral water from sulfates encourages the beer's crispness and dry feel.

O - Bell's Oarsman shows slight attributes of a Berliner Weiss from the faintly acidic aroma to the citrus taste and tart feel, but this beer, to me, is really just a notch above a bland light lager. It's not offensive and while there's no off flavors or poor production evident, there's almost nothing that sets it apart from said lager. Easy drinking, absolutely. Worth drinking? Maybe as a lawnmower beer.

Photo of plfahey
4.08/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Slightly hazy straw yellow in color with a moderate white head which fades relatively quickly.

Aroma-Spritzy, slightly spicy wheat aroma, with a lightly tart lactic sourness. Hint of lemon and faint apricot note. No hops.

Flavor-Some nice sour tang up front. Sourness tastes lactic, slightly yogurty. In the middle of the palate some lemon flavor creeps up, and the finish has apricot notes and grainy wheat flavors. Flavor dissipates relatively quickly leaving a light tart sensation on the tongue.

Mouthfeel-Medium light with medium high carbonation. Relatively sour, but not bitingly so.

Berliner Weisse is a hard to find style, but this one definitely falls within the category. Light, crisp, and citrusy with some healthy tartness-this is a perfect thirst quencher, and a fantastic summer beer. If only it was summer...

Photo of mbusster88
2.93/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours very hazy yellow color with a large amount of head. Very bright body and rather nice looking.

S: Smells of lemon peel and banana. Just like a lot of other wheat beers this one has a clean nose and some very crisp aromas.

T/M: Wow was I let down on the taste here. Not what I wanted at all! I was hoping for some good wheat balance and nice banana coriander flavors. However, I got the lemon tartness that I really did not go for.

D: I would not get this one again. Just did nothing for me and it really was not a good example of the style for me.

Photo of TheDTrain
2.83/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is a Bell's brew?? For a second I thought I was drinking a Bud Light with Lime. Ok maybe a bit harsh, but certainly not a good brew from a brewery of Bell's caliber. Pour was pale yellow and flat. Taste was crisp but bland. A few nice tones of lemon and orange, but certainly not enough to wet the D Train's train whistle.

Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.28/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beer sans style, what ever shall I do? Not e berlinerwiesse, not a gose, not a pale wheat, not a wild ale. What the hell is this sour mashed critter?

It doesn't matter, I like it.

A slightly hazy yellow with golden bits a smile of amber in there Smell is clean, pilsner esque with a hint of wheatyness. The sourness is mild and light, just keeps the mouth clean and happy.

This is an awesome session beer, I wish it was bottles in liter plastic bottles and sold every four feet on the sidewalk.

Photo of Brunite
3.1/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pils glass.

A- Pours a pale yellow with a one finger white head.

S- Lemon. Pretty one note

T- Lots of bitterness from the lemon.

M- Thin.

D- Designed as a session beer...this fulfills it's mission with the style. Not a huge American wheat fan but this is what it is. I don't care for the overt tartness with no other body behind it....but....Bell's accomplished their goal. A great summer session drink better than any macro junk. That said....likely my last taste.

Photo of DrDemento456
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - BMC yellow, clear with a ton of carbonation that turns a nice inch of head quickly to a mild ring. Bubbles everywhere!

S - Slight hay and funk, mild at best besides sour yeast and a touch of grain and lemon.

T - A nice splash of wheat along side of a good bit of lemon zest and a bit of hop bite at the end. Not really sour but lemon flavors sticks around after my first sip. Refreshing.

M - Light and drinkable. Session able indeed.

D - Well it tastes a heck of a lot better than most light lagers and surely better than most BMC. Light, refreshing and low ABV with a nice splash of flavor. Pretty much the definition of "Sessionable"

Photo of warnerry
3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a hazy straw color with 2 fingers of quickly dissipating head.

S - A bit of wheat and funk; also some lemon and tart sourness. A bit underwhelming.

T - A nice initial tartness gives way to wheat and then...nothing; disappears completely off the tongue.

M - Very light, though it has a nice crisp finish.

D - Drinkable, but not particularly desirable.

Photo of tbrown4
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12 oz -> DFH snifter/chalice. Gift from Frank in Allentown, PA

A - Crystal clear pale yellow. Little to no head, what head is there clings to the edge

S - Light citrus sweetness, lemon, banana, just a hint of malt sweetness and earthy hops.

T - Like biting not-too-tart lemon. Slightly sour. Tart after taste with a hint of a malt base. Very little if any hop presence.

M - Great carb pop. Thin. Pools up on tongue to deliver flavor then leaves.

D - This is a good Summer session brew. Very refreshing. Super low ABV. I'd happily grab a sixer of this if I could find it, shove it in a cooler before a mid-Summer camping trip. This is a very simple beer that could be a good gateway brew for the uninitiated.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,815 ratings.