1. Rating beers by attributes (look, smell, taste, feel, overall) is back! Read the latest update ...
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

1,713 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,713
Reviews: 539
rAvg: 3.51
pDev: 16.24%
Wants: 64
Gots: 110 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,713 | Reviews: 539 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mynie
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pints on tap at the Black Sparrow in Lafayette.

I didn't know what this was but I knew my friend was always talking about it, cursing the fact that he kept missing out on it. Once we stopped by the Sparrow and it was on the chalkboard but the keg had just blown. And then a week ago they had it at the Bind Pig in Champaign, where he lives, but he missed it. And then he missed it again, because even though he hung out this weekend we didn't go to the Black Sparrow. Sucks for him. But I had to order it, since he'd hyped it up so much.

Then they poured it out and it looked limp and cloudy like a Berliner. I thought "seriously, all this hype about a berliner?" because, really, when was the last time you saw someone caring about a Berliner. Then I smelled it and it super sour. So there's that.

This sour thing, it's a craze. I'm glad about it. Any bandwagon that allows brewers to take silly risks is neat, and this fad is probably way healthier than the XTreme 3X IPA thing every brewer was doing a few years ago.

But this... this is just kinda there. The malt is weak, even for a Berliner, and the sour overrides it, but the sour itself isn't especially complex or interesting. You got some light nodes of raspberries and then in the back a little bit of citrus hops. That's it. It's neat--it really is, kind of like a whole new wave of easy drinking sessions--but it's not neat enough to make a fuss over.

mynie, Jul 01, 2010
Photo of pmccallum86
4/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bells Fermented Eclipse at Stub and Herbs. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a light pale golden color with a light white bubbly head that dissipates quickly leaving little lacing on the glass.

Smell is very fruity with preach and pear aromas up front.

Taste is not what I was expecting, more of a lager than berliner weissbier in taste. Dry finish with citrus and pear notes. Light bready malts, very refreshing.

Crisp highly carbonated mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, with the low ABV this is quite a session beer.

pmccallum86, Jun 29, 2010
Photo of jpmclaug
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler into a pint glass. Growler from Piney Grove Green's.

A - Pale yellow with a small white head. Lots of bubbles running up the side of the glass.

S - Mild wheat aroma with hints of lactic acid.

T - Crisp and refreshing. Light malt flavors with a nice wheaty body. Not tart as I was expecting.

M - light body with a good amount of carbonation

D - Light, easy drinking and crisp. It's great for a hot day but is not as tart as I was hoping. Enjoyable brew but not worth going crazy over. I would drink this again especially in this brutal SC summer.

jpmclaug, Jun 27, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.15/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured this beer for Bell's at the Leesburg, VA summer beer and worked my way through 1.5 kegs of it 4 ounces at a time. I personally had about 10 samples though. The Bell's representative told me that it will be bottled in August.

Beer is light yellow with a distinct haze to it. Aggressively carbonated and it forms a thin white head of small bubbles. No lacing left on the glass but it looks good.

Aroma is mildly lactic but overall its weak.

Beer is also thin bodied and mildly lactic. I got scolded by the rep for telling people it was a berleinerweiss. He told me some incorrect facts about how this beer was made and how berleiners were made and then instructed me to tell them that it was a lemony wheat beer. I got some lemons in the taste but not a lot. It is about the most drinkable beer I've ever come across.

drabmuh, Jun 27, 2010
Photo of cdizinno
4.78/5  rDev +36.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured into a pint glass from a growler purchased at Green's-Piney Grove in Columbia. Green's also supplied with Himbeere (raspberry-red) and Waldmeister (woodruff-green) as the traditional additive shots. Excellent !!!

A: Ever so slightly hazy, pale golden straw color with a rapidly vanishing white head and minimal lacing.

S: Grain, mild malty sweetness.

T&M: Crisp, refreshing, tartness. Citrus fruit undertones with almost no hop bitterness and a mild sour taste. Light bodied.

This is definitely not my first choice in a style of beer, however, the Oarsmen is an incredibly drinkable. They are spot-on for the style by this sites description. The syrups are excellent if you don't mind a flavorable sweet fruit taste. Himbeere is raspberry and awesome. The Waldmeister is woodruff and tastes like marshmallows, Lucky Charms to be more specific(Thanks Joseph). This was definitely a worthwhile growler and experience! I could drink one of these a day(with the flavoring). Nice and mild, great dessert or break between different styles of beers to clean the palette.

cdizinno, Jun 19, 2010
Photo of zoso1967
3.43/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served up a hazy, murky yellow with absolutely no head. The aroma was tart and wheaty with some fruity notes of lemon zest and some pear. The flavor was not as sour as the other examples of this style that I have had, but it definitely has some pucker power. Wheaty, lemony, grassy and slightly astringent. Not a whole lot of depth here, but the flavors seem well proportioned and are enjoyable. The body is on the lighter side of medium, and had a clean light finish that made it very refreshing. Pretty drinkable, but overall I was a bit disappointed. Still a nice beer and a decent take on a hard to find style.

zoso1967, Jun 07, 2010
Photo of tempest
4.05/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a pint with brunch at the Sidecar in Philly. This turned out to be a tasty replacement for a mimosa and made a nice compliment to my huevos rancheros. The beer appeared an opaque yellow with a slice of lemon. The beer, while not very tasty, had a wonderful mix of creamy bread with toast and wheat cracker flavors. There were mild hints of citrus, but on the whole it was a bit clean for the style. Still, a very tasty beer and worth checking out.

tempest, Jun 06, 2010
Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap this afternoon at Mad Mex North Hills

A-Looks good-in check for a Berliner. Nice very uniformly hazy straw yellow body that is served with a 1/2 finger foamy white head. Head has really good retention and lacing is left most of the way down the glass.

S-Nose is pretty mild and quite grainy. A grainy wheat presence is the main character with a hint of sour overtones.

T-Flavor is only mild to moderate in strength and offers a big dose of wheat flavor and a hint of bready yeast upfront. The wheat flavor is quite grainy and the main character. A hint of sour overtones come through for the finish but nothing big.

M- Medium to high carbonation and light, drinkable, slightly grainy body.

D- This is a decent beer overall. Not as sour as most Berliners and a lot more wheat beer forward. Was happy to see this on the menu at Mad Mex today- you don't see this style around too often. I think there should be more examples!

PittBeerGirl, May 07, 2010
Photo of Tone
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, golden color. 2/3 inch head of a white color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of yeast, sweet malt, slight pale malt, slight wheat, slight citrus, and slight earthy malt. Fits the style of an American Pale Wheat Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of wheat, slight pale malt, sweet malt, slight yeast, slight hop, and hint of butter. Overall, decent aroma and body.

Tone, Apr 27, 2010
Photo of glid02
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Closed for Business in Charleston, SC.

Pours a hazy yellow color with a half-finger white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of grainy wheat with a bit of a twang to it. Also present are very light and tart citrus notes.

Tastes alright. Muted grainy light malt flavors kick things off with hints of wheat twang lurking in the background. Midway through the sip very mild lemon rind enters into things and carries through to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a decent thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I was a bit let down by this beer - the base is there but it needs more complexity to round everything out. Not one to avoid but not one to seek out.

glid02, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
3.18/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Barleys, I was thrilled to death to be able to try this one. Having been soo hot lately I really was in the mood to start the day with a little something lighter. Served in a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/17/2010.

The pour was alright. Lightly clouded golden amber with a small head of white that quickly faded out of the scene. Lots of carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass. Very light aroma here, hints of bready notes, a touch of light fruit, pears perhaps and a light notes of spice. Not the tartness and richness I would have liked to see in the style. Flavor followed suit the same. Just lacked the pop I would have like to have seen. Really nice grainy notes, touches of light fruit, but nothing drawing me back in. Light on the palate and nicely sessionable, it just lacked that dryness and depth of profile to put me over the top.

Overall a rather average offering from Bell's. I was hoping for a little more I have to admit.

mikesgroove, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of KI9A
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Light, macro lager yellow, nice head.

S: Tart, slightly grassy.

T: A nice lightly sour/tart lemon taste. Crackers, grass, light malts.

M: Light, leaves a decent sour taste.

D: Nicely done Berliner. I could see myself drinking a few of these, if they were available in bottles! Love seeing a lighter, sort of a rare style done this nice.

KI9A, Apr 11, 2010
Photo of tpd975
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the eccentric cafe.

A: Pours a hazy shade of straw yellow with an above average head. Little retention and no lace.

S: Simple light aromas of light tart citrus, and hints of crackery grains.

T: Light citrus, very light tartness. A bit lactic with notes of crackers and light bread.

M: Light in body, nice carbonation.

D: Lite in taste wish there was a bit more tartness. Solid, but not great.

tpd975, Apr 07, 2010
Photo of avalon07
4.25/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a pale yellow color and a hazy consistency. There was a quarter inch of foamy head that didn't last exceptionally long. Average lacing.

S: A nice aroma of citrus, wheat, and malt.

T: Tasted of lemon, malt, wheat, and a kind of bready/grainy quality in the finish. A well-rounded, underplayed flavor.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a dry finish. Light-bodied. A good beer for summer.

D: Extremely drinkable. The low alcohol content, light body, and citrusy character makes this one easy to drink.

avalon07, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of Bung
4.15/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Draft at Macs Speed Shop.
Semi-foggy gold pour, thin layer of fine white bubbles.
Aroma is light malt and citrus with a faint hint of pine.
Taste is actually quite bready. Nice accents of citrus. Some faint tea and hop presence at the finish.
Light bodied, yet it fills the mouth very nicely. Drinkable as all get out.

Mow the lawn and have a few.

Bung, Apr 03, 2010
Photo of Stinkypuss
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's Oarsman, ontap. Pours a pale yellow with some head and lace. A bit hazy in appearance. Smell is vague, just some citrus pulling through. Taste follows the nose with some lemon rind, lemon/tea like hops and pale malt. Touch of wheat is also there. Uber-refreshing and went great with some wings. This is another beer that begs for warmer weather to be enjoyed fully. I have to say this was a pleasing beer, and it was gone too fast.

Stinkypuss, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of russpowell
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on draft at Waldo's Pizza in KC

Pours an effervescent straw color with a finger of pearl white head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Bready & tart lemony smells

T: Grainny, bready with a nice tartness, plus citrussy hops. Tartness & grainyness dominate as this warms. Finishes dry & tart with some lemony hop notes

MF: Light/medium bodied with a nice crispness

Drinks very easy, a pretty accessible but a semi- faithful take on the style. Went great with my Pizza

russpowell, Mar 21, 2010
Photo of CMW
3.45/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a cloudy bright yellow color with a small white head. Very little lacing.

S - Lemon, orange peel, wheat, and some bread notes. No funk noticeable.

T - This reminds me much more of a Belgian wit than a Berliner Weiss. Lemon and orange peel are the dominant flavors but they still seem watered down. Wheat is not as noticeable and there is almost no tartness to be found.

M - Light and crisp, not bad.

D - While this would be highly drinkable in the summer, I would always choose an 1809 first.

CMW, Mar 20, 2010
Photo of AgentZero
3.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Golden color with no head, no lacing.

S - Not as funky as I would like. Bit of tart sweetness, touch of wheat, some lemon/orange/citrus smell.

T - Sweet, but no real flavor sticks out, would have liked a lot more tart on this one. The beer menu said berliner weiss (sorta) on it, and now I understand what they meant. Slighty citrus, really needed more tartness.

M - Medium carbonation, finished dry.

D - Pretty drinkable, the lack of tartness may actually make it more so, but it's not one I will miss.

AgentZero, Mar 20, 2010
Photo of rtratzlaff
3.43/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy apricot color with a decent white head.
Aromas are citrus and plenty of wheat malt. Some bubblegum notes as well.
The flavor is slightly tart not sour at all but a good flavor of oranges hits the tongue. Thicker mouthfeel than most Berliner Weiss' I've tried. Moderate carbonation also creates a decent mouthfeel. For how exclusive and rare this is, I wouldn't seek it out again.

rtratzlaff, Mar 03, 2010
Photo of BeerGodz
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap @ The POPE

Look: Light golden color, cloudy with virtually no head and no lacing which is true to the style

Smell: Lemon zest, orange, wheat, and the standard acid funk

Taste: Up Front: Lemon, then that tart yeast/acid funk. Finish: Sweet, mild malt flavor

Mouthfeel: Crisp, and sharp

Drinkability: A very refreshing, quaffable session beer!

Overall Impression: This is the second Berliner Weisse I've had in the past 4 days. I really enjoyed it, even after having 3 other Bell's beers prior to this. It was not quite as good as the 1809 I had a few days back, but it was pretty dam close!

BeerGodz, Feb 25, 2010
Photo of Slatetank
3.75/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on draft @ Ron's Original Bar in Exton -served chilled in a tulip pint

A - lemon juice colored w/ gentle hazed appearance and minimal white head

S - A lemony tart odor w/ mild wheat note in the nose

M- The feel is slightly sweet with tart entry , moderate carbonation and dry finish

T - The flavor is mildly acidic w/ lemon peel notes and subtle citrus juiciness w/ nutty wheat taking over the taste mid-way w/ light lemon cream essence making for a dry light finish

D - This is pretty decent overall for drinkability, I don't consider it the best Berliner I have had it is kind of lactic but doesn't hold to the finish -more or less a more tart Oberon

Slatetank, Feb 24, 2010
Photo of rfgetz
3.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Light, cloudy yellow straw color, fizzy white head, good retention yet minimal lacing. Smell is of hay and straw, wheat and white bread with a touch of lemon. Taste starts a with a slightly tart and sour lemon profile, moving on to the straw and bread components noted in the smell. The finnish has a little yeasty and another sour kick to it. Light bodied, good carbonation. Recomended to drink as liquid approached room temperature to get more of the interesting flavors, very light tasting when cold.

rfgetz, Feb 22, 2010
Photo of dborginis
4.15/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at Varga, I think I got one of the last in the keg.

A turbid yellow color, almost the color of wheat. Not too much of a smell, outside of a bit of a sour note. Very refreshing to drink. Dry was the first and the main sensation. There was a bit of a citrus-y/sour flavor but not so much as other flavored Berliner Weisse's I have had. Very refreshing and easy to drink. The low ABV, even though it's standard for this style, was appreciated.

dborginis, Feb 22, 2010
Photo of NJpadreFan
4.03/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's- Oarsman

A- Light bright hazy yellow with a quick fizzy foaming white head.
S- Tart lemon and orange citrus. Fresh straw and wheat.
T- Sweet tart sour lemon and orange rind with fresh wheat and a mildly funky yeast twang.
M- Sour and tart but smooth crisp and not overpowering or over puckering.

Overall- Not overly sour. Just smooth and well done.

NJpadreFan, Feb 19, 2010
Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 1,713 ratings.