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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.

1,763 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,763
Reviews: 542
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 67
Gots: 130 | 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: 1,763 | Reviews: 542 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of OWSLEY069
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy, yellow color, with a small white head. In the aroma, wheat notes and funky cheese. In the taste, earthy and small sour, funky cheese. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry earthiness in the aftertaste. I say funky cheese, but in a good way. refreshing.

OWSLEY069, Sep 13, 2010
Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy lemon color with a modest whipped egg white head that fails to leave any lace; I haven't had too much exposure to the Berliner Weisse style but if memory serves, they tend not to produce much of a head, so I am rating this by giving them the benefit of the doubt

Smell: Bready, with a reasonable amount of lemony tartness

Taste: Starts out with a crusty bread character, with the lemony element taking charge by mid-palate; after the swallow, the lemon flavors persist, though the breadiness returns to provide some balance

Mouthfeel: Light body with prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Though it is not a true Berliner Weisse, I think Bell's has stumbled onto something here as I really enjoyed the lightness and tartness; the beer would also pair well with a range of foods; it might not be every BA's cup of tea but it is a beer with potential mass appeal that I wouldn't mind drinking on a range of occasions

brentk56, Sep 13, 2010
Photo of AleWatcher
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Trying to catch up on my notes from the past 6 weeks or so... Reviewed from notes.

Poured from bottle into a Hefe glass.

A glowing yellowy golden-- pale and slightly hazy. Three finger white head is composed of large thick bubbles.

Some sweet notes with some lemony, citric, and lactic notes. The taste is a little sweet-- before turning dry and citrus/lactic notes. Remains quite easy drinking.

Body is light and well-carbonated.

Enjoyable little beer on a hot day. The hint of acidic tartness is pleasant and not overdone.

AleWatcher, Sep 13, 2010
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed yellow golden hue with a thin white cap of head. Fine speckled lacing on the sides of my flared pilsner glass. Chunks of yeast suspended in the slightly clouded elixer, alot of sediment ends up in the bottom of my glass. Aroma is mildly tart with a nice bready quality, hints of citrus and mild funk going on. Traditional sour mash methods are described on the label at a beerfest a couple weeks ago I was told this wasn't a Berliner Weiss, however I can't describe it any other way. Body is light with a drying tart finish, carbonation is ample nothing too hard to manage. Drinkability overall is super solid refreshing brew, I'm liking the fact that they made this one a year rounder in six packs. I don't know of many brewers making a tart wheat ale one of their regulars.

WVbeergeek, Sep 12, 2010
Photo of webmanspidey
3.4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass. Cloudy pale yellow color and very fizzy. Smell is grassy with a slight citrus twist at the end. Taste is fairly sour with a lot of lemon flavors. Not very complex, but very light, clean, and drinkable. This would be great to have very cold on a hot day.

webmanspidey, Sep 12, 2010
1.65/5  rDev -53%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I saw this new Bells beer in the store and had to pick it up as I've like just about everything Bells has produced. To start this definitely is nnot my style of beer.

I found the aroma to be fowl, I find it hard to drink because of this.

The taste has a slight citrus flavor which seems like it would be highlighted by a slice of orange but I didn't have anything available at the time. With that said, I found the taste on itself to be unpleasant. The initial taste is tart with a strange aftertaste.

I like a light beer for the summer, but unfortunately this is one Bells beer I won't be buying again.

FASTPACE, Sep 12, 2010
Photo of Patchmaster
4.35/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I take this beer for what it is. A nice session beer with a little citrus sour kick at the end. Not as complex as some of the other beers I've reviewed. That being said I could drink this all day sitting at the pool. Too bad it's after labor day and the pool is closed!!!

A - A hazy yellow pour with a nice white head.

S - I smell citrus, grapefruit. A very refreshing smell.

T - Very smooth with a pleasant finish of sweet sour at the end. Delightful!!!

M - Slight carbonation low to medium

D - Take it for what it is. I love the beer and would choose pick this one if I just want a nice drinker.

Patchmaster, Sep 11, 2010
Photo of shadow1961
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bell's Oarsman ale pours a thin ring of bubbles over a slightly cloudy yellow brew. Massive carbonation is evident- the nose is wheat hull, funk, and maybe a note of vanilla. The flavor is tart and citrusy up front, with cereal notes and a suggestion of herbal hop off the back. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, semidry, with a bready aftertaste. Light and drinkable, Oarsman comes in at a mere 4% alcohol by volume. It's that tartness that breaks it out of the pale wheat ale pack- when I took my first sip, I assumed it was a Saison, or made with a Saison yeast, maybe. Later, a look at the back label attributes the flavor to "traditional sour mash methods," whatever they may be. In any case, Bell's has managed toproduce a wheat ale that is distinct and flavorful, yet light.

shadow1961, Sep 11, 2010
Photo of dudemuskie
3.35/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a bottle as part of a mix-a-6er at The Andersons in Toledo.

Appearance- Pours a very pale golden color with a fizzy effervescent bone white head. Very slight haze from sediment on bottom of bottle. Almost looks like a glass of champagne with loads of bubbles tailing up from the glass.

Aroma- A mix of subtle funk and sourness with grainy malt and spicy-herbal hops.

Flavor- Starts with a tingly acidity and refreshingly tart flavor. Nice rounded middle has some grainy and spicy notes that lead into a building moderate sourness and a tart, dry finish.

Mouthfeel- Effervescent CO2, light bodied and refreshing. Very little in the way of residual sugars makes for a dry finish. Slightly puckering sourness definitely gets the salivary glands going!

Overall- An interesting beer! Feels somewhat like a Berliner Weisse, but not quite as flavorful or tart. Would definitely be a nice compliment to a hot summer day, or as a thirst quencher after a big bike ride. Definitely drinkable, but may not be the first thing I go for.

dudemuskie, Sep 10, 2010
Photo of homebrew311
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an Alaskan Brewing sampler glass.

A: appears a very pale yellow/straw with cascading bubbles. A thin collar of head remains after initial pour, no retention.

S: a lot of lemon zest and wheat character on the front, very light and fruity smelling with a bit of sourness as well. The wheat character definitely makes itself known hear. Not a whole lot in the way of hops.

T: the front is crisp tart and refreshing and the finish is very bready with a ton of wheat character. The tartness of the beer leaves you wanting to take another sip. Very refreshing.

MF: high carbonation, very light body

D: Well I have had many American Pale Wheats lately and this one is definitely unique. Upon first taste of this beer, it was presented as a berliner weisse. I can see why, but this beer just lacks the tartness to really fit into that style. As a pale wheat, I think this i s a great summer brew. Nice and crisp.

homebrew311, Sep 10, 2010
Photo of Goliath
3.05/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy pale yellow color with a thin bright white head. There is poor head retention and no lacing.

The aroma is simple. Pale malt, kind of bready with a lightly tart acidic note.

The taste is alright. It's lightly tart with a pale bready malt back. It actually reminds me of Magic Hat #9, and I hate that beer.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery. Fine carbonation gentle tickles the tongue.

Drinkability is moderate. The flavor profile is ok but not great really which doesn't entice me to keep drinking. The ABV is quite low which would categorize it as a session beer, however I would find that to be quite a chore. Not your best efforts Bell's.

I'm not sure, but I don't think this is a pale wheat ale. However, if it is then a score of average is incredibly generous.

Goliath, Sep 10, 2010
Photo of beerhan
3.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

How excited I was to try one of Bell's three August releases...

Oarsman definitely is not a bad beer but its nothing special. It is just a slightly sour incredibly refreshing beer. I have been enjoying this beer with my lunch lately and I do not feel a buzz, I just feel refreshed. It tastes similar to a macro but has a solid finish that sold me. It goes down very well also but nonetheless I cannot really justify buying it again unless the price drops because 9.99 for this is just a bit much. Overall worth trying.

beerhan, Sep 08, 2010
Photo of Mitchster
2.3/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

$1.80 for a 12oz single @ Jacks. No ingredients listed on the website. "packaged on August 16, 2010", batch #9861. Brewed using "traditional sour mash methods". 4.0% ABV per the bottle.

Pours out to a slightly hazed straw golden, forming a modest white head with average retention and no lacing, with mild to moderate carbonation. The aroma is wheat...kinda fruity, non-descript, barely any hops...suggestion of diacetyl, rubber. Mouthfeel is tart with a thin watery body. the taste is very peculiar...sour all right, like green kiwi fruit and watery lime...tart, with minimal bitterness. Bready in the aftertaste.

Hrmmm. Not my idea of a good beer. I know Bell's is going for a palatable light ale for hot summer days, but I'd pass on this one and have a Budweiser instead. Honestly.

Mitchster, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of bsp77
3.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into tall glass.

Appearance: Hazy straw with very thin white head. However, I know that a Berliner Weisse is supposed to look like this - of course, this is not meant to be true Berliner Weisse, just inspired by it.

Smell: Grainy and grassy, with light tart fruitiness. Very mild aroma.

Taste: Tart lemon, wheat malts, and a very subdued spiciness.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, light body, semi-dry (tart) finish.

Drinkability: Refreshing and tart. Very, very simple but certainly quite drinkable.

bsp77, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of JackieTH
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Cloudy yellow with a finger or so of white head.

Smell: Grain and grassy.

Taste: Lemony tart & sour with some underlying notes of sweetness, wheat, grain. Finishes a bit dry but with lemony sourness throughout.

Mouthfeel: Light and highly carbonated.

Drinkability: This is too sour for me to repeatedly drinkable.

JackieTH, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of JordanEllwanger
3.8/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A cloudy pale yellow with a decent amount of sediment that was easy to pull up off the bottle. A crisp white head with a wheat heffe smell seemingly subtle on the malts. Pow! A citrus taste right up front, very limey lemon. feels good for a wheat beer with so much citrus flavor. Not too much tart. I was surprised by this. I thought it would taste less then it does. Cheers!

JordanEllwanger, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of bamadog
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked up a bottle of this, and I have to say that I was more than happy to see another offering from Bell's that I haven't had the chance to get yet -- always a welcome addition from a solid brewery. Review is from notes taken on 9/5/2010 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is a pale straw/lemony yellow color; starts with a 1/2 finger white head that fades quickly to a thin, but full, cap; body is very clear and shows fast and strong carbonation; a few thin swaths and spots of lacing are left hanging around.

Smell: A thin, crisp and slightly corn-syrupy sweet maltiness; a slightly tart lemony scent is available too; nose isn't overwhelmingly strong, but I'm very intrigued by the sour/tartness from the mashing process that the label refers to.

Taste: Very toasty and crisp graininess that is a tad barley-esque; slight lemony citric aspect with a bit of the tart, near Berleiner Weisse, aspect to it that makes it very refreshing (in fact, it could be a little more tart for this guy); not especially strong or robust, but very crisp and refreshing and this makes for an excellent summer beer; a slightly sweet and grainy aftertaste lingers.

Mouthfeel: Body is thin, light and crisp with sharp prickly carbonation; a moist stickiness is left on the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: This is definitely an all day kind of beer -- really, with no weight to it and an especially small ABV, great refreshing flavors that don't overwhelm the sense and still provide refreshment, this beer's got a great thing going for it.

bamadog, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of crossovert
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

It pours a light, light gold with a hint of white. The head is fizzy and white and recedes quickly with no lacing.

The smell is citrussy, slightly tart smelling. Pretty mellow.

The flavor is interesting. It has a biting tartness, though it isn't sour. It is really dry. It has some saltiness and citrus. Too much water flavor.

It is interesting, but like many American Pale Wheat Ales it leaves something to be desired.

crossovert, Sep 07, 2010
Photo of TurdFurgison
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I saw this for the first time today, $8.99 per sixer in Columbus, and bought it without hesitation. Bell's has earned the trust overall, and I expected this might be a wild ale because the bottle describes it as a product of "traditional sour mash methods" and it's only 4% ABV. Alas it's not a wild ale, maybe more of a Berliner Weiss / American Wheat Ale hybrid, but still solid.

The beer is pale golden color, about 2 SRM, clear, with a few fingers of brilliantly white foam capping the top. It smells tart and Kolsch-like, a little grainy but basically neutral. The beer has more flavor than the aroma implies, starting just a little sour and ending with a lasting wheat bread-like flavor. Just enough sour flavors to keep me happy while not offending my wife, this is a classic arbitratration beer. Its muted flavors never go beyond the threshold that would offend a newcomer to craft beers, but it still has enough for a more conditioned palate to enjoy.

It goes down like water, a delicious low alcohol beer for drinking on the deck.

TurdFurgison, Sep 06, 2010
Photo of bashiba
3.3/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a cloudy yellow with a thin white head, moderate lacing.

The smell was very much like a classic Euro Pils, light grain and a bit grassy.

The flavor is mild with a light grain and wheat sweetness with a tart and mild sour finish with a touch of lemon.

The mouthfeel has a lot of carbonation and is a bit dry.

Not a bad beer, but nothing to get to excited about, just a very mild sour.

bashiba, Sep 06, 2010
Photo of Lukafer
4.18/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a pale murky gold with about two fingers of white head. I smell lemon, citrus and wheat. Tastes like it smells, some lemon, slight grass and a nice sour finish. Very crisp and refreshing, and very easy to drink. I could definitely see this being a session beer for me, especially on hot summer days.

Lukafer, Sep 06, 2010
Photo of smerlis
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 10 oz. glass.

A: Yellowish, hay color. Minimal lacing dissappeared quickly.

S: Slightly sour, but not much jumps out.

T: Tart, lemon flavor, with a bready finish.

M: Pretty light, with a good amount of carbonation.

D: Refreshing summer beer. Not as tart as advertised, but still drinkable. Not sure I would buy again, but would drink if offered at a BBQ.

smerlis, Sep 06, 2010
Photo of dirtylou
3.65/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, scooped a sixer at city-wide in downtown south bend before the ND-purdue game this weekend

cellphone notes. consumed in a parking lot adjacent to the stadium.

appearance: hazy pale yellow body, light white lace

smell: musty, lemon peel, wheat and grain, light tartness, bready yeast

taste: very light wheat with a surprising tart finish - citrus, clove, light spice. This worked well in a tailgate setting, but it wasnt really interesting enough for a curtain call

mouthfeel: light, tart

drinkability: good

dirtylou, Sep 06, 2010
Photo of pdoran10
4.03/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

intriguing beer. had this on tap the first time and was excited to see some 12 oz. bottles recently released in Minneapolis.

this beer is not a looker. pours out a clear golden color looks like a macro lager with no head. watery looking.

smell is some light grain and perhaps some adjuncts. not all that pleasant.

taste is almost nothing like the smell. nice crisp sourness, lemon, and finishes with some light bready malt. really refreshing and unique. grain bill comes out a bit more as it warms and really isnt verry pleasant. best drank at low temp and not any higher at all

mouthfeel is crisp with moderate carbonation. thin but seemingly intentionally so. works well.

could drink these all day especially on a sunny summer day like today.

pdoran10, Sep 05, 2010
Photo of morimech
3.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very pale, light yellow color with two fingers of white head that hangs around for a little while before settling to a thin cap. Moderate amount of lacing is left on the glass. Not sure what the brewers intent was here. Brew a Berliner Weiss type of beer or a boring, flavorless wheat beer. This beer definately landed on the boring side. Grainy, wheat aroma with just the slightest hint of sour lemon. If it wasn't for the slight sourness in this beer, it would be a completely pointless thing to drink. But it still is barely enough to get me to continue to drink this beer. Just a little flavor from the wheat but lacks any spice or fruity esters. Zero bitterness. No off flavors so it has that going for it. Light body as expected and pleasantly carbonated. This beer needed more charactor. Seems like it was a lackluster attempt at producing a Berliner Weiss or Gose.

morimech, Sep 05, 2010
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,763 ratings.