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

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Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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563 Reviews
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Reviews: 563
Hads: 1,973
rAvg: 3.55
pDev: 7.61%
Wants: 76
Gots: 213 | 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: 563 | Hads: 1,973
Photo of GRPunk
3.83/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (ID 9861) poured into a nonic pint.

A- A moderate pour left a 1/2-finger, white head. The body starts a clean, yellow-gold and becomes hazy with a bottle swirl. The head settles in to a full film and leaves good sticky rings.

S- Definite lemony aroma at first reminds me of a Sam Adams Summer Ale. The sour scent takes on something of a vinegar-like quality with a little warmth.

T- You're hit with a really flavorful first sip. Lemon-sour dominates off the bat. Wheat characteristics in the background. It has a puckering, dry finish. Sour is a major component, yet isn't overdone or offensive.

M- A little foamy at first. It has a creamy, smooth wheat feel. It's somewhat "light" bodied which lends toward the refreshing feel.

D- It's very intriguing to say the least. It has the qualities of an APWA, Witbier, and Berliner weisse all wrapped into one. I know it started life listed as a Berliner and has been a source of recent debate (not sure where the brewery officially stands, but I know they don't rely too much on fitting specific styles either). I dig the "point of view" artwork on the bottle. It kind of fits the funky brew inside. (1,156 characters)

Photo of peabody
2.49/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours out mostly clear yellow with one finger of white suds. No lacing to speak of.
Smell is cheap plain beer. No wheat or spices here. Really nothing here.
Taste is kind of a sour mess then a little, and I mean very little dirt/hop. I can't believe this is Bells.
Mouthfeel is very clean. Exactly nothing going on in the mouth.
Drinkability is WAY low here. This is awful.
I'll say it again, I can't believe this is a Bell's beer. I have never had a Bells beer that is this bland. (481 characters)

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.
Beautiful pale golden color with a 1" pillowy head, which settles down to a thin film and eventually leaves altogether. I think it's supposed to be similar to a berliner weiss so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt there. Leaves a little bubbly, soapy lacing.
Smells good. A nice tart wheatiness, a little apricot, lemon, and peach.
Crisp and tart on the palate, lemony and grassy. Simple but tasty. The aftertaste is kind of bland and cheap tasting though.
The texture would benefit from some dryness, it ends kind of sticky.
Again, if it were cleaner and drier it would be more drinkable, but still pretty smooth and light. (673 characters)

Photo of Natural510
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch #9861

Pours a pale, cloudy straw color with a small amount of sediment floating in the glass. Decent head, nice ring of lacing on the glass.
Sour lemon scent, a bit spicy as well. Wheat comes through toward the end.
Tart lemon & wheat dominate the flavor initially, a peppery spiciness kicks in later, with a decidedly breaded finish.
Mouthfeel is what you expect in a pale wheat ale...crisp, tart and clean, with a kiss of easy-going hops.

I rarely find an APWA I enjoy, but this one was quite good. The spice is added in correct measure, and the wheat-bread note is successful as well. (595 characters)

Photo of mcann2pu
3.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours into pint glass a crisp, clear, amber/ yellow color with a thin one finger head, not much lacing.

Smell: wheat smell, little bit of a spicy wheat smell.

Taste: clean refreshing taste with this one, pleasant tart taste.
Mouthfeel: light bodied beer.

Drinkability: Very drinkable, its light and refreshing, but has a good wheat taste, could have benefited from being a little more flavorful though. (417 characters)

Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.72/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Pours a very clear pale yellow with a foamy white small bubble one finger breadth head that dissipates over 30 seconds to a thin film.

S. Wheat with some tart apple.

T. Some light apple with vague citrus characteristic. A pale malt background.

M. Light and delicate body with brisk effervescence.

D. I've not been able to keep this in the house. This is a beer I could easily find myself drinking in the spring, summer, and fall. This might have to be my next commercial beer on tap...although it wouldn't stick around for too long.

There are only two things I really question:
1. The style distinction - tastes more like a berliner weissbier to me
2. The label art - its not terribly appealing to begin with and it doesn't fit in with the rest of the brands labels (773 characters)

Photo of adamette
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle that I bought at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor, Ohio for $1.68 two days ago into my Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass. The following stamped on the back label of the bottle: 9861

A Short lived white fluffy head that leaves little to no head over a hazy lemonade looking body. Not impressed with the look. 2.0

S Nice light wheat sweetness with maybe a dash of citrus. This is a good smell as it is interesting and light but does not simply smell like a lemonade with a bit of alcohol warmth. I can perceive the wheat in there and it is intriguing. 4.0

T Interesting taste. On the "edges" there is a tart, citrus sweetness but in the middle is a nice, solid wheat ale. The light, tart citrus taste lingers longer than the wheat but it is good for the style, admittedly not one of my favorite styles. 4.0

M Very light indeed which is consistent with the style. 3.0

D The light feel and low ABV make this entirely drinkable. 4.5

Notes: Interesting offering from Bell's. (1,031 characters)

Photo of mwa423
3.65/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy pale yellow color with a finger and a half of frothy white head that quickly disappears.

S - Light and wheaty with a bit of orange peel and some yeastyness. Has a few of the notes of a saison with some wheat overall.

T - The taste has a sour note like a light wild ale or saison. Next there is a wheaty note along with the sour taste. There is also a good amount of fruit from both the sour grape/cherry and the light citrus from the wheat.

M/D - Mouthfeel is light but not watery and leaves some tingle on the tongue. Very drinkable beer for those who enjoy the style. (591 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice brew...american wheat with some hints of Berliner Weisse...a perfect amount of tartness...sour apple like but not real dominant...just a nice light impression of it....basic wheat base...light side of medium bodied...interesting beer that would have place in the right situation for me...looks flat in the glass (316 characters)

Photo of atsprings
3.68/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a DFH Signature glass pours a crisp bubbly straw yellow with a nice frothy off white head that diminishes to a thin layer and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is tart fruit and sweet malts with mild citrus hops. The taste is a nice kick of tart fruit with sweet malts nicely backing them up. The beer is quite light and smooth with nice carbonation. This is a very enjoyable wheat beer, one that I can easily enjoy on a hot day or a cool evening. (471 characters)

Photo of JLeege
3.95/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After reading very mixed reviews, I gotta give this one a shot!

Appearance- Pours a very light straw, crystal clear, small white head. Active carbonation.

Smell- smell is earthy and funky actually. Some cherry. Smells reminiscent of a saison.

Taste- tastes like a lighter american wheat beer, also tart. Some cherries and lemon, still getting some funk (probably from the sour mashing).

Mouthfeel- light, crisp, refreshing.

Overall- seems to me more like a berliner weisse, or atleast more similar to the few I have tried. If reviewed to that style this would probably recieve an A from me. This is definitly a strange brew, thus the widely varried ratings, I like it. (673 characters)

Photo of Blakaeris
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours very hazy pale yellow with a massive rocky head.

Aroma is sweet and lemony with a ton of yeasty funk.

Taste is sugar and lemony as the nose suggested. However, there is also a sour apple quality. Finishes sweet and yeasty.

Mouthfeel is light and soft.

A very unusual beer. It could grow on you. (305 characters)

Photo of headbucket
3.18/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

appearance:pale, golden-straw color. about a 1/3rd inch head on pour. small frothy head remains throughout the glass. small amounts of lacing left on the glass.

smell: faint sour fruit smell

taste: has a decent wheat beer base with a somewhat sweet fruit/cherry flavor overtop of it.

mouthfeel: smooth and light-bodied. feels pretty good for the style.

drinkability: smooth,refreshing and goes down easy. However it starts getting a bit sweet towards the end of glass. I only have a single of it so I can't say if it would be too sweet to have more than one in a row. This one went down well, could see a few going down well on a hot day but am also worried it may get too sweet to really enjoy more than one or two at a time. (731 characters)

Photo of Beejay
2.73/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pale yellow and hazy, the head is white, and dissipates fairly quickly.

S: There is a light bready smell, with quite a bit of tartness/sourness.

T: Tartness right up front like sour cherries. There is a nice wheat flavor after some of the sourness subsides. It is a bit watery.

M: Light bodied, and very high carbonation. I don't know if it matches with the beer in general.

D: I get what they were going for here, but it just does not appeal to me.. It's watery, and tart, and doesn't seem to come together well. (523 characters)

Photo of kegger22
3.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bell's Oarsman Ale was a hazy yellow color with a thin white head. The aroma was musty to me, like some belgians I've had. The first taste I got was a little saltiness, and then a weak lemon flavor. The mouth feel was light bodied with mild carbonation. Drinkability was so-so, just not enough flavor to recommend a second one. (327 characters)

Photo of wedge
3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Foggy pale yellow with a thin, bright white sheet of a head. Subtle aroma of wheat and tart lemon...clean and mildly funky. Wheat and lemon tartness again in the flavor with a fine sweetness running right through the middle, finishing with some fresh grain. Light bodied, dry, and refreshing. Quality summer beverage... (319 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
2.43/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into my De Struise glass...A super light straw pour, totally clear, reminds me right away of bmc! Ok white head, decent retention, lacing is poor...BMA araom of skunkiness, light wheat comes through, a little hops...Taste is all macro as well, almost no flavor, light corn, no hops, sweet wheat.

This beer is garbage, unless you think bmc is good, stay away. (371 characters)

Photo of kylehayworth
3.25/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was excited to try this one, based solely on the label. Apparently Bell's is going to be doing new packaging like this, which is cool.

A: It has a translucent pale yellowish pour, it forms a white'ish head the rises and falls rather quickly.

S: Not much in the way of nose, mild in all of the following: citrus, grassy, lemon/lime, maybe a hint of tart/sour' ness.

T: Starts out with the lemon/lime crisp taste, then finishes with a tart/sour profile, it lingers for a moment then subsides quickly.

M/D: Light crisp, but lacking in texture, somewhat thin.

It was a decent beer, not sure on the classification. It tastes like a berliner. Worth it on a hot day... (670 characters)

Photo of bristol2120
3.33/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a weizen glass. Pale golden and slightly hazy appearance. Head dissipates exceptionally quickly for a wheat beer, leaving minimal lacing. Aroma is quite subdued, and lacks many of the classic characteristics I look for in the style. Taste lacks much depth, but does have a nice refreshing tartness. Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I had hoped for. Overall, lacking in many of the characteristics I look for in this style, but its tartness is nicelyrefreshing, and would probably go down nicely on a hot summer day. (547 characters)

Photo of JoePat
4.16/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer pours a pale golden color with a fizzy white head.

The aroma consists of wheaty tange, lemmon, and a musty note.

A nice tarte flavor that takes this nice clean wheat beer and makes it so refreshing It would be perfect to drink on a sweltering hot day.

The mouthfeel is thin which is to be expected but the tartness holds up and brings it around so it feels right.

Very drinkalbe...a lawnmower beer if I do say so. (427 characters)

Photo of gatornation
3.33/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a slight hazed pale light yellow color with a brilliant white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a sudsy light lacing..smell is a earthy lemon wheat with malts and a touch of sour yeast lots of malts ..taste is the same as smell.. lots of munich malts with a sour lemon yeast hit ,some lemon tartness and bread..mouth feel is light tart crisp a mix of lager pils and wheat that is tart..its ok drinkable ..i wont be drinking much of this..its one and done for worth a try (489 characters)

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance -- Pours a hazed pale straw with a slim sudsy white head.

Smell -- Husky malt, cracked wheat, lemon rind, basement musk.

Taste -- Follows the nose pretty well overall. Biscuit, whole wheat bread, faint honey sweetness, a bit of saltiness, tart lemon in the finish.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with mild carbonation. Meh.

Drinkability -- Interesting in that this straddles the line between a pale wheat ale and a Berliner Weissbier. Pretty drinkable, but it didn't blow my mind. (492 characters)

Photo of billab914
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Founders pint glass. It poured a hazy and very pale golden yellow color. It started with a modest bright white filling the top inch of the glass. The head faded a bit but a white ring remained around the edges of the glass.

The aroma has a very tart wheat flavor to it with just a hint of sourness coming through. It has a bit of crisp fruit flavor to it as well.

The taste shows a bit more of the sourness to it, but it's still pretty mild in that department. The tart and crispness also comes through with some more of that fruity, apple, pear like flavor. It has a bit more wheat to it in the finish.

The mouthfeel is light and carbonation is above average. Drinkability is pretty decent, it would be a nice choice for a hot day. The crispness and tartness were pretty good in it. (822 characters)

Photo of mdwalsh
4.1/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Bright white head sits on top of a slightly hazy pale golden/yellow body. I guess yellow is better than golden. Lots of active carbonation, but the head is fading fast. This color though is just a little too...ick.

S: Strongly sour wheat. No hops, the yeast actually reminds me more of a lager yeast.

T: Based on the aroma, this isn't as sour as I expected. Bready wheat comes through much more and the yeast is more subdued. I get a slight floral bitterness in the background. This beer does pack a lot of flavor for such light body and ABV, just not my favorite flavor.

M: Very light, nice carbonation level. The mouthfeel lends itself to being a more refreshing, summer ale.

D: Very drinkable body and everything, and in the right setting the flavor could work very well, but there are more settings where it does not. (828 characters)

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

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. Batch #9861, bottled on August 16.

A: Hazy golden body. Big head that fades to a thin film. No lacing.

S: Largely wheaty with a bit of tartness.

T: Starts off shockingly flavorless and bland. Becomes rather tart as it warms up. Not a whole lot of Berliner Weisse character, though.

M: Reasonably light, a bit of carbonation.

D: Funny. When I had this on tap at RFD a few months ago, it seemed to have a lot more Berliner Weisse character. As it is, it doesn't quite rise to the level of a genuine Weisse, but it's just reminiscent enough to drive away the typical drinker. A shame. I expected more from Bell's. (649 characters)

Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 563 ratings.