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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Educational use only; do not reuse.

583 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 583
Hads: 2,042
Avg: 3.54
pDev: 29.38%
Wants: 77
Gots: 251 | 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:
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 583 | Hads: 2,042
Photo of Paincane
3.51/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of Sky
3.86/5  rDev +9%
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.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.02/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.87/5  rDev +9.3%
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!

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Photo of Jack_Malts
3.6/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of dar482
3.76/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of siege06nd
4/5  rDev +13%
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!

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Photo of Immortale25
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of tviz33
2.8/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm gonna keep it short and not-so-sweet.

The buzz word "sour" made me go for this one. Pours piss yellow, more neon than a BMC brew. Smell is almost non-existant, but it honestly smells like puke. The flavor is better than the nose, but it's mostly lemon- like the sour part of lemon, not necessarily the citrus flavor. Anyway, this could be refreshing if I was sweating my ass off on a hot day, but it wasn't exactly the best way to end the night after having a few beers.

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Photo of eepound2
4.21/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Personally I think this beer is underrated across the board. It is a pretty nice beer from Bell ' s, fruity and fairly light. It is a very drinkable beer in my opinion, would drink a few on a hot day. It is not my favorite beer, but with a decent aroma and solid refreshing taste, it deserves better than the moderate rating.

Overall, I'll definitely enjoy this brew again. Good for a spring/summer brew and can have a few with its light abv

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Photo of brutusmuktuk
3.83/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle with a clear yellow color, plenty of bubbles, and a foamy white head that disappears quickly. The aroma is lemon and wheat. Taste is lemon, wheat, and a nice touch of tartness. The beer has a light to medium body feel and crisply refreshing. This was a surprise to me. I was expecting something light and uninteresting, but got something much more enjoyable.

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Photo of Tafyob41
3.6/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is a nice session beer that I've grown to enjoy. It has a light citrus smell and a light lemon sour taste. It really cleanses the palate and is perfectly carbonated. The first one of these I ever had I though was awful, but I now understand sour beers. Gave this on hand for an after meal drink or when trying other beers.

Pours gold in appearance with a small white head. Served in a pint glass.

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Photo of ChrisL24481
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Hazy, golden yellow with a fizzy, white head. Visible carbonation raising throughout.

Aroma - Flavors are light but present. Citrus, wheat are the most prominent flavors I could detect.

Taste - Lemon citrus, tartness, sour, slight hint of wheat and malts.

Mouthfeel - light body, slight tart finish, very refreshing.

Overall - A light, refreshing Berliner Weiss. Perfect for a hot day. It could have been a bit more flavorful, but it's still solid.

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Photo of Madapour
4.55/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I absolutely love this beer. The sour taste is exactly what I like, of course, I didn't know it until I tasted it. I have drank a good number of these beers, and a little pre drink advice before you pop the top, flip the beer upside down and tilt it and spin it to get all the goodies off the bottom. It makes the first drink as sour as the last.

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Photo of Ljudsignal
3.54/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Night Shift tulip. Bottled 10/22/13.

Pours a slightly hazy straw-gold. A creamy bone-white two-finger head quickly subsides to a thin film and ring. No lacing to speak of.

In the nostrils, sweet grain aromas mingle with tart lemon and sour wheat mash. The lingering remnants of a funky brett smell, but sadly I think age has not been kind to this beer--what remains has largely been transformed into grainy malt aromas.

Taste more or less follows the nose. Opens tart and lemony, switches mid-palate to a grainy wheat note which gradually becomes less tart and more bready and sweet as the beer moves towards the back of the palate. Simple but pleasant. Not nearly as tart for me as others have reported, although there is a light lingering acidity on the back of the palate, a bit like drinking lemon juice.

On the tongue, light-bodied, highly effervescent, and finishing crisp and dry.

On the whole, an uncomplicated but refreshing and sessionable beer that I fear I have not done justice to by waiting to drink it. As it stands, this was a perfectly pleasant drinking experience, but I'd love to revisit a fresher bottle at some point.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.49/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Dense white creamy head of foam on a golden straw colored beer. Slight haze gives way after a while and a steady stream of effervescence. The head fell pretty fast but left a ring and a film on top.

Nose is tart lemon and has more of a malt presence than I was expecting. Light sweet grain. Crisp dry wheat. A bit of herbal hops but mostly tart citrus. There is a terrific funk smell on this nose and if you want to know what that smells like then this is the beer to show you as it is not complicated by many aromas.

taste is very simple and straight forward. Crisp and effervescent, tart lemon and a light grain sweetness. It is not mouth puckering but it is dry and palate cleansing. It's mild and very easy to drink. Refreshing and a perfect beer for a warm day, for the beach, a lawnmower beer. Light and drinks so very easily.

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Photo of chefhatt
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When I poured this beer, it has a.gold color body with a fizzy head to it. The aroma has a light maltyness to it. The taste has a tart flavor and some sweetness to it. It also has a little bit of malt on the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel is like champagne. Overall this is I think my first sour and I enjoyed it very much.

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Photo of VincentFrey
3.13/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour / Appearance: Fizzy and effervescent, with a quickly forming and falling head. A very hazy straw color, likely due to wheat malt. Keeps carbed and bubbling up.

Aroma: Traditional sour mash, but sadly one note. That's not necessarily bad for a berliner weisse or out of style. The sour mash is a bit unusual though, meaning the wort was soured then underwent a boil, then fermented traditionally. This can leave a much less complex profile than if it undergoes traditional souring methods, but certainly imparts the traditional notes. Nothing else to speak of though; very clean yeast and some light wheat. It hits the style but I can see why this is hard to find when I make trips to PA (where Bell's gets distro'd instead of MD)

Taste: The aroma notes dictate the flavor. Very low acidity, actually, liking diminishing returns from age since the sour mash. Very refreshing though, and that's kinda the point. Simple wheat malts and hints of lemon and coriander round it out. Not much for mouthfeel outside some sour puckering around the cheeks, and drinking a lot like a soda.

Overall: What can I say, this is a neat little Americanized berliner weisse. The sour mash doesn't provide a good complexity and the malt bill, while traditional, is nothing special. It's worth a try, but brings to mind why berliners are traditionally flavored at the bar.

Bottom Line: Buy if you're looking for a refreshing and semi-traditional berliner. Try if you're a fan of sours. Don't bother if you easily have access to other berliner weisse styles unless you wanna try a new one.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4.02/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Bell's snifter. Packaged 11/18/13.

A: Pours a hazy very light yellowish straw with a white head on top. It dissipates in a minute or so leaving some lacing on the glass. Can see some visible carbonation in the body.

S: Has a tart aroma that is noticeable upon first whiff with a hint of sour wheat mash. Some pale malts in the background that come out more as it warms.

T: Nice flavor profile on this beer. Has the sour/tart aspect that defines the Berliner Weissbier style but it doesnt overpower. Instead a nice malting makes up the backend so this doesnt finish as tart as it starts.

M: Light to medium body with ample carbonation. A bit puckering at first but easy to get used to. Great sessionability on this one. Clean finish.

Overall I've always been a fan of this beer. Real interesting flavor that sets this one apart from the other session beers on the market. Sure its not as tart as some berliner weissbiers can be, but the malt backbone is solid enough to gain this some more points.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.54/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a pint glass. The beer pours champagne clear gold with minimal fizzy bleached white head that is gone before I put the glass down. Would have liked a little better head retention.
Aroma is some grainy malt and tart notes. No hop presence or booze.
First sip reveals a light body with fine prickly carbonation.
Flavor is tart and a little bitey, no hops or booze which fits the style.
Crisp refreshing beer that would be perfect on a warm summer day. I enjoy it just fine on this cold winter evening.

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Photo of WoodBrew
2.72/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I don't know....maybe its the style that I don't like. Way to tart for me. The beer poured a hazy yellow with no head and no lace. The scent had almost a chardonnay flare. The taste was tart much like a white wine. The mouthfeel was light in body with subtle carbonation. Overall its ok...probably better summer beer than a late fall beer.

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Photo of argock
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap in a Shaker pint at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA). Reviewed from notes.

A: Hazy watermelon-amber with very short cap of small-bubbled off-white head with average retention and minimal lacing.

S: Sour from the start but pleasantly so with a sour fruit character. No real hops character. There is a bit of grainy maltiness there as well.

T: THe flavor is easy-drinking and mellow, with sour fruit quality that is straightforward and enjoyable. There is enough of a malt character with some cracker and graininess to give it a touch of interesting complexity. But I will say this is not a very lively beer -- kind of dull on the palate.

M: Very light and low-medium carbonation lend a little more body to make this more drinkable.

O: A pleasant surprise, although nothing world-beating about it. I'm not usually a sour beer fan, but this one was not too bad and could be really good in the right circumstances -- a hot day out on the deck.

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Photo of cavedave
3.79/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy straw color, nice finger of white, fine bubbly foam atop. Looks like you want a Berliner Weissbier to look for sure.

Pure wheat grainy sweet and lacto goodness, hints of citrus and funk. Nice.

All the flavors of the aroma, but in a taste that is less strong than the nose. Very delicate, despite the tart lacto, and the hints of funk and citrus make this yummy.

Very light in the mouth, pleasantly carb.'ed, delightful clean presentation and very refreshing.

Not the most flavorful of this style that so many brewers are making more traditionally and also with decided American twists. Very tasty, and I recommend it if you like this style, and prefer it less tart and grainy than traditionally brewed.

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Photo of Billolick
3.63/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The good news is that Bell's fine beers are now being distributed to NY State.

"PKGD on 10/08/13" So its fresh, but is that a good thing or not? Not sure with this style....

My local bottle shop had four options, this was the one I had not tried, so I picked up a sixpack....Berliner Weiss...hmmm not my favorite style, but I do like sour/wild beers so lets give it a try....

Pours lightly hazed dull golden amber, off white head slowly fades to a thicker film and collar film and then some low sheeting, but nothing too exciting to the look of this one.

lemony nose is the harbinger of the sour to come...

More lemons on the palate, moderate puckering sour/tartness. Bright and fairly refreshing. Also wheat, hay, and a gentle eartyness come to mind. Still not my favorite style....But I could see enjoying another bottle of this on a warm summer day with some some cheese, bread and salad.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
80 out of 100 based on 583 ratings.