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

613 Reviews
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Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Berliner Weissbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

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."

Added by Thorpe429 on 04-12-2009

User Reviews
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Reviews: 613 | Ratings: 2,151
Photo of SDak
4.33/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Berliner that started it all for me. Opened my eyes to the style and I always pick it up when I get the chance. Love it for summer especially. This spawned many gallons of sour mashing at home as well.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.69/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Yellow, light, good degree of haze to it, super small white head . Aroma was wheat and lemon.

Sour tart wheat and lemon in the taste. Very light bodied. Refreshing. Pretty much a summer only beer for me though, but in that season, it hits the spot.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.76/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The Bell's Oarsman pours a hazy golden glow, 80% opaque, with the cloudiness of a good Hefeweizen. Head is 3 fingers, creamy and fluffy. Leaves lace in drops and splashes.

Aromas of lemons, limes, sweet tarts, and yeast. A dash of white pepper. A little faint but decent.

Tastes of yeast, lemon squirts, citrus pith, and white bread crusts. Faint but refreshing.

Feel is crisp, clean, and effervescent. The finish is semi-creamy and wet.

I do like this ale, although it's somewhat underwhelming. A great refresher, especially in hot weather I'm sure.

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Photo of kitch
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A 12 fl oz bottle with a packaged date of 6th March 2015 and poured into a short stemmed wine glass.

Appearance: It poured a very cloudy light straw yellow colour with a one finger white head that dissipated quickly to nothing leaving minimal spotty lacing.

Aroma: Tangy, lemon honey mix with a hint of apple and pear.

Taste: Light sour lemon and sour green apple juice.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with high carbonation.

Overall: This was a decent enough Berliner Weisse. It is easy to drink and refreshing but not my favourite for the style.

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Photo of leegang
3.95/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle ice chilled into a pint glass.

A: Poured a hazy light straw colored brew with quite a big head which instantly died down into a long-lasting lace around the glass.Quite a bit of carbonation as tiny bubbles keep oozing up from the bottom of the glass. Looks simply amazing, now time for the smell.

S: Dominant lemon zesty nose with slight herbal aroma with traces of spice (cloves?). Just by smelling it I can start to feel my mouth watering.

T: A light yet delightful tinge of sourness envelopes the taste buds which almost dissipates immediately, leaving a tart and dry finish. The light sourness tastes like fresh-squeezed lemonade on ice without the sharp initial sour bite that most lemonade have, and the smoothness of the wheat balance off any other sharp tones making this an extremely well balanced beer.

M: Very light bodied with a high amount of carbonation (serving it ice-cold is the way to go). The fizzy carbonation and light sourness plays an extremely wonderful trick on the tongue.

O: An extremely refreshing and sessionable beer. Very well-balanced in terms of the carbonation, mouthfeel and sourness. Many may think it as being too light and less savoury than other sour beers out there, but I personally think that this is an extremely well balanced lightly soured beer that is surprisingly versatile and tasty! A damn fine refreshing beer especially in a hot day, and does wonders when paired with freshly baked fish. Definitely stocking up on this.

Singapore, 30/11/15.

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Photo of MemphisSooner
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The reviews of this beer are an exercise in missing the point. This is a fantastic beer. It is category destroying, as it is not exactly a berliner weiss, but is in the 'sour/tart', low abv family. This beer is refreshing, tart, drinkable, and satisfying on a hot day. If you are thirsty, want a break from the norm, and enjoy the tart flavor profile, get this one. Super tasty.

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Photo of jimdalton
3.68/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pale, golden, straw color with a cloudy haze. Quickly receding one inch head with light lacing.
Odor: Sour, tart top notes with light malt undertones
Taste: Tart citrus flavor (cranberry with a hint of lemon) and a smooth yet subtle malt base. Subtle earthy, herbal notes as well. There is a sophisticated balance at work in this beer.
Mouthfeel: Lighter in body with a medium carbonation.
Overall: Bell's Oarsman is a wonderfully tart beer that ventures into the realm of citrus and earthy flavors and does not disappoint. This isn’t your old standby, and it is definitely worth the experience.

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Photo of beergoot
3.56/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light gold in color with a fizzy head. Aroma is sweet and lemony; tangy and sour. The flavor follows the aroma. Light bodied and rather fizzy on the tongue; mostly dry finish.

A fair enough beer for the style.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Batch 14709 bottled 8/18/15.

12 oz bottle served chilled into a Pilsner glass. Oarsman is a very pale straw yellow color with thin fizzy white head. This beer appears to be bottle conditioned and I poured the yeast dregs in so it's got considerable haze.

Aroma is mild with hints of slightly sour fruit.

Flavor is also mild but has great character including tart lemon, wheat, and just a bit of wild yeast funk.

Mouthfeel is light in body and nicely carbonated.

Easy drinking but not super simple. An enjoyable summer session beer with depth and character.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy straw color with a head that fizzes away almost instantly. Aroma is classic berliner weisse: sweet lemon or lemonade with some honey hints and wheat. Taste starts with wheat beer notes and follows with a pretty light, lemony tartness. Body is light and well carbonated, making the beer very refreshing and easy to drink. Overall this is a very well made, classic berliner weisse.

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Photo of angelmonster
3.96/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, yellow, fizzy body. Head is super thin and white. Head retention and lacing were average.

Smell is of straw malt, lemon zest, and peppery saison/hefeweizen yeast. No hops or alcohol detected.

Taste is of acidic, slightly sour, pale, straw malt. Tastes like a corona with a lime added, I think I've used that descriptor with Westbrook Gose as well.

Mouthfeel is light and very well carbonated. Head dissipated quickly unfortunately and lacto yeast left a puckering sensation on the palate.

Overall this beer was a refreshing, session able berliner. Nothing remarkable but a solid and easy to obtain ale. Would like to enjoy this one on a hot summer day.

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Photo of JLaw55
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was pleasant and slightly sour. Definitely a starter for the uninitiated to the style. This is about as mild as they come. Even my wife, who hates anything sour, liked it. While it was pleasant and I would drink again, the big thing for me as that there wasn't a whole lot of flavor behind the sour. It was just a little bit of wheat and not much else.

Would Drink Again: Yes
Would Purchase Again: No

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.4/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had at Ye Olde Saloon in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I've wanted to try this beer for quite a few years but never got around to actually trying it. Finally, I'm having my first Oarsman, and my first Berliner Weissbier. Well, I'm not a fan, unfortunately. All I could think when drinking this is that it tastes like a silghtly sour Witbier. I like sours, but Witbiers are one of my least favorite styles, for whatever reason. I'm trying to not let that influence me in this review, but no doubt it is. It really just has the typical coriander/clove/banana sorts of flavors that a Witbier would have, with a little bit of a "twang" tartness/sourness to it. It's different enough that I'd try it again, but it definitely wouldn't be a go-to for me. It's memorable, so it has that going for it. I would also say it's not boring, and has a relatively big flavor for a beer that's only 4%. Still, I can't quite help it -- it's just a beer that I'm not personally "feeling."

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Photo of SometimesIfart
2.99/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bells Oarsman.

Bought this mostly as a palate washer for a nigh of big brews. Bells usually does me pretty solid. Blahblahblah let's skip the bollocks and get to drinking.

Look - Pours a very murked deep shade of yellowish golden with a two finger head that quickly runs away faster than an armed robber from the cops. Carbonation appears to be moderate with this one as expected . Lacing just isn't there to be noted. 3.5.

Smell - I don't really get it. What's the difference between a Berliner Weissbier and an adjunct? The cloves and fruits of course!. Bit of banana, bit of cloves, and a bit of adjunct. Still not impressive. 3.25.

Taste - High levels of indistinguishable fruits on this taste, with a heavily corny finish. I really have nothing else to say here. Ain't bad. 3

Feel - Body is as heavy as your ex wives ass in bed with a huge dose of carbonation. Really does not fit the supposed light nature of the beer.. 2.

Overall - I must not have gotten the memo on this one, nor the joke. So the Germans have basically taken an AAL, Upped the flavor a bit, and added a ridiculous body to catch it? Hmm. Well, it certainly isn't close to the worst thing I've ever had, but I don't see why you should be punished with such heaviness body wise for such a low ABV beer. 3.

This is really what those obese lonely sixty year old men drink in their moms basement around their toy train collection as they feel a quarter Deutsch for the night? For shame. Look if you want a good German style beer, Get GLBC Oktoberfest or North Peak Dauntless Oktoberfest. Trust me guys.

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Photo of ordybill
4.16/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass at the World of Beer in Pooler, GA. This was a very refreshing Berliner Weissbier. The beer has a slightly tart fruit flavor that goes well in the hot weather.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.5/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love this offering from Bell's. It's simple, but very nicely done. I would call it a great introduction to sour beers, for someone who is interested in them but doesn't like the extreme sour beers. Its got a quick bit of tartness that finishes clean and crisp. Some herbal notes in the flavor. Nicely carbonated. Very sessionable. Very refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Photo of jwc215
3.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Packaged on 07/02/15:

Pours clouded golden. A thin fizzy white head leaves some dotted lacing. Not much head retention or lacing - but not unusual for the style.

The smell is of tart (fruity), sour bready yeast.

The taste is of relatively mild sour (touch of vinegar) - yeast/bread. Finishes with a light sour character.

Crisp, light and refreshing.

A nice, milder take on the style.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.83/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The look of this beer is a light straw color with a small fizzy white head that disappears almost instantly. Smell is citrus, floral, wheat and tart. Taste is citrus and wheat with a little bit of tart coming through on the back end. Feel is very light, crisp and refreshing. Overall I enjoyed this beer and would buy again. Perfect yard work beer.

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Photo of Bottleguy
3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

My first experience with a berliner; I very much enjoyed this as a single purchase, so I bought a 6'er shortly after. The single taste significantly different than the six pack I purchased, so much so that I was dishearted from purchasing this beer again. On review of the single, lightly carbonated, hints of vinegar, overall very drinkable. The six pack on the other hand, overwhelmingly sour, with almost a sour milk taste. Perhaps I'll purchase again.

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Photo of ghengisflan
4.22/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Unfiltered, straw yellow. No head and no lacing.

Smell: The sour smell definitely predominates.

Taste: A subtler sour taste than might be expected at first sniff, over a background wheat ale.

Feel: Well carbonated, but not excessively so.

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Photo of Zonk
3.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Mild vinegar and grapes on the nose, smelling a bit like an acidic white wine. Thin but refreshing on the palate with just a hint of sour. Refreshing summer beer.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.89/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap at kite and key Philadelphia. Cloudy white yellow with some white foam. Citrus nose, spices too. Taste is a light clean citrus based malt. Subtle tartness, but not sour. Smooth. Quite refreshing, nice session able summer brew.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a pale straw with plenty of meringue-like head. The aroma is biscuity, with a pleasant hint of vinegar. The taste is straight up summer refreshment. The lovely acid hits you first, as well as the bready, yeasty, sourdough flavor. The mouthfeel is rather thin and a bit flat despite the head. That is the only disappointing feature of this summer classic. Unbeatable for the price.

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Photo of alexanderplatz
3.23/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Practically no aroma,

Taste: The first word that comes to mind is "inoffensive." It isn't very strong in taste was a little overpowered by food. Overall I would compare it to a somewhat watered-down version of Bell's Oberon.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.92/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a vibrant, slightly hazy straw with maybe 1/4" fizzy white head that's gone in an instant. Retention is barely there, lacing just isn't there.

S: Proper lactic tartness, hints of sour apple, grape must. Smells great!

T: Comes on off-sweet & bready. Mid palate is dominated by subtle grapey notes. Finishes with a really nice tart lactic sourness. Simple, but VERY effective.

M: Style-appropriate. Moderate/high carb married to a light, crisp, soda-like body.

O: I love it. It's such a straightforward & enjoyable Berliner. No frills, accessibly tart & totally quaffable.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 613 ratings.