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

Not Rated.
Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

Educational use only; do not reuse.

590 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 590
Hads: 2,073
Avg: 3.55
pDev: 29.3%
Wants: 79
Gots: 267 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

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: 590 | Hads: 2,073
Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +12.7%

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.

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Photo of LittleDon
3.33/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

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Photo of barczar
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not exactly what I would classify as a Berliner Weisse.

Aroma and flavor are very light, reminiscent of a gose, with less tartness. Certainly no Berliner.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.7/5  rDev +4.2%

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.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

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Photo of cbutova
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of Phocion
3.79/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.96/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

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Photo of Paincane
3.51/5  rDev -1.1%
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 +8.7%
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 -14.9%
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 +9.3%
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%
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 +1.4%
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 +5.9%
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 +12.7%
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 +2.8%
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 -21.1%
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 +18.6%
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 +7.9%
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 +1.4%
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 +0.8%
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 +28.2%
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 -0.3%
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 -1.7%
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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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 590 ratings.