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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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574 Reviews
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Reviews: 574
Hads: 1,997
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.04%
Wants: 76
Gots: 223 | FT: 3
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 574 | Hads: 1,997
Photo of socon67
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Vey odd beer. The pour was a fantastic golden color with high soapy foam. Perfect for the style. The smell however, had some skunky, musty smell. Taste had a decent light feel with a tart finish. Very smooth feel consistent with the style.

Decent beer, but I have enjoyed other Berliners much more. (304 characters)

Photo of CraigP83
4.39/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very pale yellow, nearly clear. Smells light, slight sour and wheat. Effervescent wheat flavor and a little green apple tartness. Sessionable too, we have a winner! (164 characters)

Photo of crob3888
4.25/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'd place this somewhere between an American pale wheat ale and a true Berliner weisse. Bell's gets major props for packaging this in six packs; not many other breweries that distribute to my area do so. This goes down easy for those hot summer days (of which we have a lot in Southern California) and it is extremely thirst quenching. Wheat, slight tart lemon flavor, and a light body with lots of carbonation and a dry slightly tart finish keeps you coming back for more. If you're expecting tons of flavors, look elsewhere. Actually, don't, you should still try this and maybe open your palate up to the subtle finesse of a nicely executed beer that won't destroy you in 100 degree heat and pairs excellently with any food. (726 characters)

Photo of zdk9
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Pours a very hazy yellow to orange depending on the light. The slender head dissipates quickly.

S- The distinct slightly sour aroma of wonder bread starting to mold before it's actually moldy. A bit of corn, almost popcorn, almost butter popcorn. Crackers.

T- A pleasant tartness. Getting more pleasant as I drink it. It's sort of a sweet rice wine vinegar. Maybe a pinch of floral flavor. A little bit of light malt, kind of a water cracker or very light and airy sourdough bread.

M- Light, the tartness doesn't stick around like you might expect.

O- Good taste. A very easy light drinker with some complexity from the sourness. Would make an excellent summer beer (673 characters)

Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
3.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 01/29/15

Look - Pours a very pretty light honey gold. Slight haze, beautiful frothy head. Head slowly dissipates to a nice cap, with good distribution. Good clinging. 4.5 paws.

Smell - A bit minerally, a little bit of funk, metallic, barnyard, hay, lemon and orange zest. Not super inviting. 3 paws.

Taste - A good amount of American wheat flavor, lemon, grassy hops, a touch of honey, only the slightest tinge of sourness. A bit of white grape and apple, slightly peppery, with a mineral/metal finish. Very refreshing. 3.75 paws.

Feel - Very thin and crisp. Most of the tingle is towards the back of the tongue. Light and easy drinking. 4.5 paws.

Overall - It rings true on some notes, but falls flat on others. Not really sour enough to be called a berliner weisse, more of a light American wheat beer. Very refreshing, good warm weather, outdoors beer, but the minerality is a bit off-putting. 3.5 paws. (934 characters)

Photo of oldbizmark
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

another great beer from the guy's at bell's. beautifully balanced easy drinking sour. if i had one complaint, i would say that it the flavor doesn't last. just drink and taste and then gone. not a bad thing especially when coupled with food. just seems a but thin. (269 characters)

Photo of bubseymour
4.3/5  rDev +20.8%

My traveling beer geek pal, picked this one up for me while on beercation in OBX. A wonderful session beer in Berliner Weissbier style. Slightly tart, easy to drink and very balanced and flavorful. Could have this beer anytime, anywhere, any reason. If there is anything to knock it, its only because of fizziness in the body and the finish is a touch on the dry side and not as smooth and cleansing as some other ones from same style of beer. Otherwise, its delicious. Enjoy! (483 characters)

Photo of mchegash
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%

Date: 8/21/14
Other notes: Bottled 6/20/14

Appearance - 4.25/5
A nice glowing yellow. Not a gold color like many other beers, but definitely more of a yellow color. It looks interesting and inviting. Small amount of head after I first pour in glass, dissipates in a minute or so. I can see the carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the surface of the beer. Overall a nice look

Smell - 2.5/5
Cannot really smell a lot from this beer. Smells like cheap/standard beer smell, but with a little citrus/tart twist to it.

Taste - 3.5/5
Flavors of beer, tart. There is a little sweetness to the taste I heard this was a 'sour beer' (though not brewed using the same technique as standard sours), and was excited, because I like sour beers. But the tartness in this beer is a little disappointing. I can definitely taste the tartness, but it's a slightly different kind of tartness then I am used to (I am mostly familiar with Jolly Pumpkin's sour beers), and the tartness is not as strong as I was expecting. The flavor is nothing special, but not bad either. If I let the beer linger in my mouth a little, I get slight sensations of tart apple

Mouthfeel - 3.5/5
The beer is quite crisp. Light to medium body. The carbonation is nicely balanced.

Overall - 3.5/5
Not a bad beer, but not a great one either. I was hoping for a little more from this beer, but just because it wasn't what wanted/was expecting, doesn't mean I can't enjoy it for what it is.

Weighting: Appearance 15%, Smell 15%, Taste 35%, Mouthfeel 15%, Overall 20% (1,529 characters)

Photo of joeseppy
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Very pale yellow pour with bonewhite froth.

Has a Pilsner aroma that is floral ensued by lemon tart-sour.

Digging into some wheat/yeast and just enough sour for me-not puckering but nice and level. Basically a citrus zest. Brine carries over.

Find it be be light bodied and a bit spritzy. Spicy herbalness that initially is coarse on the palate. A refreshing break from my DIPA wagon.

I've always read about this and was curious. Scored some at a backwoods fire and believe this would be a summer refresher for next year. But hey, it sure did work here in early Autumn deep in Michigan. (600 characters)

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +12.4%

pours a cloudy straw color with the carbonation of a Berliner Weisse. It is lemony, dry, tart and refreshing. It lacks 1809’s barnyard funk and the carbonation is not quite as champagne like or tart as the two German interpretations but it is very drinkable and much cheaper than either German beer. For someone looking for something light, refreshing and not a traditional American Light Lager, this is worth a try. This would be a good beer to spend a day on a boat with. (475 characters)

Photo of LittleDon
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

A 12 oz. pour at World of Beers in Cary, NC on 9/18/14. While the look and feel appear to be on, the smell and taste are where this beer is lacking. Both the aroma and flavor are very muted. In particular, there is less citrus and acid than one would expect from this style. While it drinks very clean from start to end, the flavor seems to fade toward the finish. (364 characters)

Photo of HattedClassic
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%

The beer pours white and small bubbles as part of the head but dissipates quickly. The beer itself is hazy and a pale straw color. the Beer has a tart smell mixed with a banana yeast notes and orange hop notes. However, the smell appears to be a little weak. The taste has a strong sour/tart note with banana notes from the yeast. The orange hop flavor is still present but each of the notes taste a bit watery. The beer's mouthfeel is slightly watery and light bodied with smooth and light carbonation. Overall, a decent beer but falls to the trap that the style needs something else and stronger to make it good. (614 characters)

Photo of patre_tim
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

A: Lemony cloudy with lots of soda like carbonation, 3 fingers of yellowish head that fade fast.

S: Sour, slightly vinegary scent, lemony as well, and somewhat salty like the ocean. Light fruitiness, lemon rind.

T: Lightly sour like lemon juice in water, a little yeasty dough quality, some brininess, and a malt quality like an adjunct lager, almost a hint of offal .

M: Light body, highly carbonated, dry sour finish.

O: Well done brew, though nothing overly defining about it. Craft beer Berliner meets assembly line, leaving a minimalist brew to style that is refreshing and smooth without abrasive characteristics. I love that its sessionable, and somewhat accessible. (686 characters)

Photo of cbutova
3.15/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed during the last week when out of service area/Wifi in WY/UT. Full phone notes taken at the Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, UT.

A- A goblet receives a very pale golden beer with just a small haziness to it. A fizzy white cap builds atop the beer but falls rather quickly to a small ring. Lacing comes in with just a few spots around the glass.

S- Simple yet effective aroma for the style. Grainy wheat crust with a light tart lactic acid fruitiness.

T- The yeast side of things opens up more with light fruit esters like apple coming in with some breadiness. The centerpiece is still the lactic acid lemony fruit feel even though the actual sourness is very low.

MF- Light bodied but it has a certain puffy, foamy texture to it. High end carbonation contributes to that consistency and there is just a hint of tartness.

This is certainly one of the least tart Berliners I have had in a long time. This is not detrimental but I think even a hint more tarts would do wonders. Solid but suprassed by other modern examples of this style. (1,055 characters)

Photo of Phocion
3.79/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle with a bottled on date of June, 2014. Poured into a weizen glass a hazy straw color with a finger of white head. Head lasts about 3 minutes then falls leaving thin and not particularly sticky lacing, not surprising given the high acidity.

Aroma is primarily a very grainy wheaty scent along with sharp, spicy phenols. Zesty, lemony citrus hops and a subtle hint of fruity esters.

Sharply acidic lacto flavors combine with a zesty lemony hop bitterness. Very wheaty with a touch of floral hoppiness. Apple-like esters.

Sharp, clean, crisp mouthfeel. Acidic and highly carbonated with a light body.

Overall, this is a decent beer. Rated to style, its ABV and hoppiness is too high for a Berliner Weisse, and it's missing the big, fruity, banana-like esters of an American Pale Wheat or a Hefeweizen. Wherever it lies stylistically, it's drinkable but far from exceptional. (891 characters)

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.96/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this from a twelve ounce bottle into a beer can-shaped glass. It has a pale golden or straw-colored body and a pale white head. The head is fluffy, a finger-thick, and persists well before settling into a quarter-inch layer of lace.

Call me crazy, but I always seem to get a bit of salt from Berliner Weisses on the aroma. That's what I seem to be getting here, along with some champagne-like dryness, tartness, and wheat. It's slightly citrusy too.

Taste is a tad lemony, wheaty, and there's even something fruity and berry-like. I still get something slightly salty. I like it. Not quite gose-like, but sometimes I find these two styles hard to differentiate.

This beer is incredibly light and easy-drinking. I almost thought it was watered-down, but a number of sensations dispelled me of that notion. The carbonation is light and there's really something sort of champagne- or wine-like abut this. It's dry and fruity.

I guess some people just don't understand this type of beer. It achieves everything I'd want in a summer beer: light, drinkable, yet still offering a number of diverse flavors. It's damn goodd and don't let anyone tell you different. (1,170 characters)

Photo of Paincane
3.51/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy pale gold with a white head and short duration of head retention.
S: Funk, tart and citrusy aromas make for a unique bouquet.
T: Slightly sour, tart, slightly salty and citrus flavors.
M: Light, sour, tart and extremely summery.
O: Refreshing Berliner Weisse. (272 characters)

Photo of Sky
3.86/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Great overall beer. Refreshing sour for the summertime! A light ale appearance with a nice sour bite at the end. Something i could drink a few of and not have trouble. Im new to trying sour beers and this one is making me a fan. I would recommend this beer for a hot day. A big fan of bells brewery and will be buying this beer again. (335 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
3.02/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Sometimes a beer is poured and you immediately contend that it's old and flat but the beertender says its very fresh. Oarsmen poured with no carbonation, no bubbles, no head and nothing suggesting it was a beer.

The nose was very light but had easy to distinguish wheat and lemon notes.

The flavor was exceptionally light with a wheat, Pilsner malt and bready taste. Some fruity lemon was found with a hint of sour.

This had no visible carbonation but was very crisp and easy to drink. It was easily sessionable and was fuller than the watery complexion. (557 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 5.23.14

A - Golden yellow with a bit of clarity, 1 finger of head but not much lacing. Don't see any sediment floating around (like with Oberon).

S - Floral and wheat. Not a big aroma. Light

T - Light and refreshing. Lemons, maybe some pears/apples/grapes and wheat.

M - Light bodied, and well carbonated and sizzles on your tongue. Very nice

O - An awesome summer brew, and is so refreshing on a hot summer day. Goes down easy and is light, so you won't get tanked. (485 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a semi-hazy straw yellow with a white finger width head. Fair retention, resulting in a thin, broken layer of surface suds.

Smell - Somewhat bready with a mellow citrus lemon undertone.

Taste - Really simple, basic flavor, but pretty delicious. Lots of lime and lemon zest backed by a very neutral bready malt quality. Finishes with a refreshing, mellow lemon-lime sourness.

Mouthfeel - Light in body with lively, tingly carbonation. Crisp bite. Goes down smooth and easy.

Overall - Pretty sure this is my first Berliner Weiss, and I gotta say I'm digging it. Really nice lemon zing that comes across as very genuine. Perfect summer brew. Corona with lime wedge, eat your heart out! (706 characters)

Photo of Jack_Malts
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pale yellow, the color of unripe grapefruit skin. Head dissipates quickly. Honestly, smells a little bit like bud light lime, but this isn't really important. Smells of lemon and lime rind, a light wheat breadiness, pale malts. The flavor is a bit better than the nose with hints of lemon juice, unripened grapes, pale malts, a mild tartness that almost reminds me of very underripe peach skins, and a bit of wheat. The mouthfeel is effervescent, tart, and light.

Not the best Berliner Weiss out there, but a good showing from bells, especially considering the low price and high availability in my area. This would be nice to drink all day long at the beach. Very sessionable and very refreshing. I'll probably buy this again to enjoy on a hot summer Sunday. (768 characters)

Photo of dar482
3.76/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a hazy wheat yellow color.

The flavor is quite bright and fresh. A good point of lemon zest, lots of stone fruit as in unripe apricot. A medium tart quality of lemons with a light malt wheat body.

A solid brew from Bell's and one of the better brews from them. Truly a good summer brew compared to their Oberon. (332 characters)

Photo of siege06nd
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint...

A. Slightly hazy and pale straw in color, the thinnest of off-white heads rapidly disintegrates, leaving behind some stray, loose bubbles. Lacing is similarly spotty.

S. Hints of wheat, mild floral notes, big biscuit dough, and traces of lemon zest.

T. Pilsner malts, more of that tulip petal hop profile, then a big dose of sweet, doughy wheat, and a much more pronounced tartness of lemon and orange zest. A bit of lacto creaminess for measure.

M. High carbonation and very delicate on the palate. Light bodied feel on the initial taste that moves more towards light-moderate with pilsner malt sweetness, slightly bitter hopping, and pear skin notes.

O. This is a very solid Berliner and, I suspect, very close to the traditional style. There's only hints of tartness as opposed to outright sour acidity. Bouquet and flavor are very similar to a German Pilsner, but the lacto tartness and the wheat lend a creaminess more appropriate of the Berliner style. The reviews on this are understandably muted: this is so easy drinking, so straight forward, and so well-integrated that it almost comes off boring. But it's anything but. This is a wonderful piece of first class craft and an absolute treat for the warmer months. In a world of over the top sours, Oarsman aims for classic simplicity and makes its mark. Cheers! (1,358 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Duvel Tulip. Back label says PKGD 04/18/14

A- Pours a hazy straw yellow color with a 1/4 inch white head that soon fizzes away to a thin ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Pretty standard Berliner Weisse aroma with a large dose of wheat and a yeasty must.

T- The tartness on this is very low. I'm getting more wheat and mild lemon zest than anything else. Yeasty aftertaste.

M- Very quenching which is very nice since I just got done mowing the lawn but I still would like just a tad more tartness. Medium-low carbonation and a light body.

O- Not bad, just lacking the amount of character needed for it to be a repeat buy. (718 characters)

Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 574 ratings.