Oarsman Ale
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Oarsman AleOarsman Ale
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American Pale Wheat Ale
Ranked #359
Ranked #43,360
3.58 | pDev: 15.08%
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
Oarsman AleOarsman Ale
Notes: Kettle-soured wheat ale.

First brewed in 2008 at our original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo, Oarsman Ale grew out of our desire to explore the tradition of session beers and to create a unique, flavorful experience for everyone, no matter what the occasion.

Tart and refreshing, this sessionable, bright Wheat Ale exudes citrus and lemony aromas from Cascade hops and trades sour intensity for finesse. A perfect companion for any occasion, Oarsman Ale is a beer based in tradition, but with that distinctive Bell’s twist.

A perfect beer to compliment any menu.
Reviews: 659 | Ratings: 2,338 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Cottontown201:
Photo of Cottontown201
3.98/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Yellow,nice head
S: Faint citrus and pepper notes
T: Very nice balance of sour and spice, less tang than other sours
F: Smooth drinking, very pleasant.

Nice package, plenty of flavor in a relatively low ABV beer.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.96/5  rDev +10.6%
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 Tsar_Riga
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pale golden body, slightly hazy, minimal head and no lacing.

S - Sour wheat and lactic tang, sharp and funky.

T - Sharp bright flavor, bold yogurt and bread, tart and clean.

M - Brisk and clean, with a crisp finish.

O - A pungent, flavorful beer. Quite decent.

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Photo of Raime
2.99/5  rDev -16.5%
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 Phocion
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
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 mmmbeer89
3.13/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A little on the tart side (well A lot on the tart side) but still a decent beer. It's more of a sour beer than a wheat beer, It has a very sour smell to it.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.31/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

$1.80 for a 12oz single @ Jacks. No ingredients listed on the website. "packaged on August 16, 2010", batch #9861. Brewed using "traditional sour mash methods". 4.0% ABV per the bottle.

Pours out to a slightly hazed straw golden, forming a modest white head with average retention and no lacing, with mild to moderate carbonation. The aroma is wheat...kinda fruity, non-descript, barely any hops...suggestion of diacetyl, rubber. Mouthfeel is tart with a thin watery body. the taste is very peculiar...sour all right, like green kiwi fruit and watery lime...tart, with minimal bitterness. Bready in the aftertaste.

Hrmmm. Not my idea of a good beer. I know Bell's is going for a palatable light ale for hot summer days, but I'd pass on this one and have a Budweiser instead. Honestly.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 11/14/2011.

A: Pours a lightly cloudy pale yellow in color (looks almost like lemonade). The beer has a quarter finger tall fizzy white head that quickly reduces to a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Very light lacing is observed.

S: Overall this beer has a very light aroma, there is a light presence of tartness and just a tiny bit of funkiness. The aroma is pleasant.

T: This beer has a very enjoyable but light flavor, refreshing. Pleasantly tart with a subtle hint of wheat.

M: Light bodied with slightly less than moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly prickly on the tongue.

O: Very light and refreshing, quite easy to drink and definitely sessionable. It has an almost palate cleansing quality like a sorbet. I really enjoy this style and this is a good example of it. Definitely one to get again.

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Photo of XicanoBeerRun
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of smerlis
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 10 oz. glass.

A: Yellowish, hay color. Minimal lacing dissappeared quickly.

S: Slightly sour, but not much jumps out.

T: Tart, lemon flavor, with a bready finish.

M: Pretty light, with a good amount of carbonation.

D: Refreshing summer beer. Not as tart as advertised, but still drinkable. Not sure I would buy again, but would drink if offered at a BBQ.

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Photo of pathman
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of MarkyMOD
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Wayne17
3.12/5  rDev -12.8%

Photo of Iamjeff6
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of brother_rebus
3.76/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of talktvtome
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Redrover
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Imperial pint, the beer is gold with a slight chill haze.

It has an aroma of grains and something a bit sour like a green apple.

It is tart, slightly sour and a bit grainy. I like the interplay between the yeast and acid. More tart apple mid-glass. This is a pretty approachable beer for folks new to this style.

The mouth is decent, with a low carbonation level. For some reason, I would like more active small bubbles, not sure why, the beer just seems to call for it. .

I like this one and think Bells has a winner here.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.28/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle pours a near crystal clear straw yellow with a thin head that diminishes to a narrow collar

Smells a musty, funky, dirty, mild lemon

Grainy, mild tartness, lemon, and funk. This is really enjoyable for what it is. Not quite a wheat, which is fine. Not quite a Berliner, which is a bummer.

Snappy, moderate carbonation and ample mouthfeel. Sessionable....though I despise the term. Could, and have drunk these en masse, all while maintaining an Old Spice-like coolness. Well done, Bell's.

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Photo of Minotaur
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A little approached style - this is a good American example of Berliner Weiss - but not the best.

It is meant to be an extremely mild session beer that is refreshing.

It pours the traditional slightly hazy, golden color of the style. It has a fizzy head that hangs around for only a short time.

The aroma is virtually non-existent. I could detect only the slightest citrus and mild yeast.

While the goal of a sessionable and unique beer of this style is reached, I don't think it is the best example due to the an extremely flat taste. It is very light, with a very mild sourness. The wheat content is subdued and doesn't impart significant body or typical weisse beer qualities.

It is certainly still a good beer, and very drinkable due to the low alcohol and mild flavor. But it unfortunately doesn't really leave a lasting impression that makes me want to go back for more.

I would drink it again, but probably not run out and specifically look for it.

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Photo of Mineo
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

not a conventional berliner weiss as i understand them. this one pours a bit darker, hazy orange honey color with a small white head that doesnt last long. smells a touch sour, like just a tad of brettanomyces in there, but i dont think there is. tart lemony notes as well with a funky ale yeast. flavor is yeast forward with a really cool wheat malt profile. the sourness comes from the yeast i think, very citrusy. this is a pretty solid summer brew, lots going on, but lighter in body and carbonation. very drinkable, not boring at all. my only disappointment was not in the beer at all, but in the fact that my waitress told me this was a sour beer. it isnt, but it is quite good for what it is. still never had a bells brew i didnt adore.

edit: this has come a long way since my initial review, now for sale in cans in colorado. its paler than i recall it being now, maybe palates and expectations for the style have just changed over time, but this is one of the originals. still a lot less sour than many of its peers, but a highly drinkable and refreshing brew, perfect for warm weather.

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Photo of usofarsenal
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of scotv
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of DubC14
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Lone_Freighter
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a stange, the appearance was a semi-pale burnt yellow almost a restrained orange color with a thin white foamy head that fell off pretty quick. No lace.
The aroma had some sweet lemon rind and pulp, super light bitterness, some refreshing grassy sweet aspects, light sour-ed wheat and ended with a tickle of bright crisp sticky tart rind.
The flavor brought the sweet to the sour to the tart to the tang bringing in the citrus, the wheat, the grassiness all together to ride into the aftertaste nicely.
The mouthfeel was light bodied with a sturdy sessionability about it. Carbonation felt fine, pretty low. ABV felt good and crushable.
Overall, if I lived in this distro, I would pound the crap out of these cans during the Summer.

Date on the bottom of the can reads: "PKG 20:25 04/05/17"

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Oarsman Ale from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 2338 ratings