Oarsman Ale | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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Oarsman AleOarsman Ale

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States

Style: Berliner Weissbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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."

Added by Thorpe429 on 04-12-2009

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Reviews: 634 | Ratings: 2,250
Photo of Premo88
4.15/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. can poured into "craft beer glass" (wide-mouthed stick)
(02/1/17 born-on date printed on can? hard to read)

L: pale yellow, almost 100% clear with just a bit of cloud in it from the bottom of the can; pushes up 1/3-inch tall head of white foam that dissipates quickly; no stick or lace

S: very subtle nose, light lemon, lemon peel, kumquat, grain, cracker malt ... a distinct sweetness at times

T: tart lemony wheat flavor with a lot of grain, almost cracker-malt grain flavor; the lemon tartness is sweet, approaching lemonade

F: light, well filled out by carbonation but with a slight ale slickness to it ... even has a softness to it

O: about the only thing that could make this better is if it had less alcohol ... something in the 3.3-3.5% ABV would make it too good to be true; full of flavor with a great tartness that isn't overpowering; a no-brainer to keep in the fridge as a closer year-round and a perfect summer brew ... and because the sourness isn't too much, it's not a bad brew batting out of the leadoff position to start a session depending on your particular palate

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Photo of Jmatz
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy light straw color, small head...some "floaties" even, that's unfiltered for ya. Smells pleasant, a bit of bread and yeast.

Tastes slightly tart, very crisp, almost zero hops. Very fresh and clean, refreshing beer. Very drinkable. Will be sure to keep some on hand for summer. Might be the best "after cutting the lawner" ever.

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Photo of HipCzech
3.84/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at The Pit Room (Houston, TX), served in a shaker pint glass. Pale, cloudy yellow with a modest head of white foam and light lace. Clean, light aroma of wheat bread, lemons and slight barnyard funk. Bright and tart flavor: more lemons and vinegar, wheat and malt, and very slight funk. Light body and lively but fine effervescence. Neither very tart nor complex, clean and refreshing - great for washing down some smoked brisket and ribs.

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Photo of mjurney
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pale straw, cloudy with some particles floating. Medium-high carbonation. Thick bright white head.

Very crisp and clean, zesty, sourness.

Tartness up front, bright, zesty, lemony. Pale malt, a little grainy. Green grape skin towards the end. Finish is crisp and dry. Light bodied, a little crewy, crisp, refreshing, tangy, sharp carbonation, super drinkable.

It's a very nice Berliner Weissbier.

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Photo of q33jeff
2.56/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle to glass. Appearance. Light yellow. Minimal head. Aroma is barley, light hops. Palate is a touch flat. Taste has a touch of sour Apple which I am not sure whether or not helps. Interesting and somewhat pleasant but nothing special. Liking more as I go.


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Photo of Karibourgeois
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy straw colored pour with a small and airy white head. Aroma of yeast and light barnyard funk. Taste has a more grain than tart with yeast and wheat standing out backed by a slight lemony tartness. Light bodied.

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Photo of DrainBamage
4.21/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a slightly opaque straw color with thick head that thins to a lace around the edge. Has wheat like aromas with hints of tart citrus. Really smooth going down, but citrus and tart. My first Berliner Weissbier and rather enjoy the tartness. Would recommend.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I find it interesting that I have not reviewed this beer before now. It may have something to do with the fact that Larry only recently CANsented to having it CANned in support of The CANQuest (tm). Yep, I got it in a CAN!

From the CAN: "A refreshingly tart wheat ale with bright, citrusy aromas. Great for you and your crew."

Wow! a Berliner Weisse & me without any woodruff or raspberry syrup on hand. I remember when Brandon Greenwood of Nodding Head was the first American brewer to make it and I tried it with each syrup before abandoning such trifles, opting for it straight. I'm taking it straight today, also.

At long last, a Crack! & inverted Glug to get things started! I loved watching as the head came rushing up, forcing me to back off and down. I wound up with two-plus fingers of foamy, rocky, bone-white head with decent retention as a result. It looked like meringue atop a lemon pie. Why? Color was an oh-so-slightly hazy Straw-Yellow (SRM = > 2, < 4). That distinct sharp, tartness of the nose is due to a lactobacillus culture being used & I will readily admit to having had to look it up. I recently walked out of a local beer bar when one of their servers again demonstrated her profound lack of knowledge & was trying to give ME misinformation. Grrr. The nose had a lemony tartness that was already causing my lips to slightly pucker in response. Mouthfeel was thin-to-medium. It was not as tart in its taste as the nose had led me to expect, though. I would venture that even a novice could handle this without syrup(s). I wonder if Bell's has dialed this down to make it more palatable to the general CANsumer. I certainly agree that it is a refreshing beer and the lemony flavor reminds me of Fanta Lemon which I discovered on my first overseas deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. It made for a great mixer with Tanqueray Gin & I now wonder how this might mix with some Tanqueray. Finish was dry, citrusy and tart and I would have it no other way (except maybe a little more tart).

As it happened, I had some Tanqueray left over from another recent experiment & poured some into the remaining Oarsman Ale. Dry gin on top of tart = gaspingly dry! Phew. Deep breaths. It also brought out the gin's distinct juniper flavor while cutting some of the beer's tartness. This is an experiment to which I want to return. I am sure that there is a sweet spot as far as ratios & I am willing to try to find it in the name of science. I will report back when I do so.

 2,488 characters

Photo of josanguapo
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From Labirratorium. In Teku glass. At lunch, after futsal match, with fried fires + eggs + swordfish. Its sourness is pretty soft, probably balanced due to the wheat. Not unpleasant but maybe a bit flat. A bit watery feeling

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Photo of Chizzlethespeez
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is exactly what it says. A tart wheat ale. Most sour-ish beers I love. But this one is just okay. Too much wheat. Not enough sour. That balance is there, just not preferred.

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Photo of breakingbland
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a cloudy straw with a slightly sour aroma (due to an extract that is added). The taste had an crisp finish. All in all, an OK beer that I liked this beer more than expected.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bell's Oarsman, 4% ABV, 10 IBU, style is Berliner Weissbier. Pours thin hazy yellow, with thin white head. Nose is - not much. Taste follows. OK mouthfeel. Overall the best that can be said is inoffensive. Coors Light has more flavor.

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Photo of Vixie
3.69/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy straw yellow color, looks like a lighter colored version of a wheat beer. There is a bit of a white head that dissipates fairly quickly. leaving a very thin layer of bubbles across the top.

Smell is tart and funky. Also can detect a hint of lemon and bread dough.

Sweet and sour is a good way to describe this one. The flavor is a bit on the citrus side, a bit like lemon and a sour orange. The sweet and sour balances well, so neither become overwhelming.

Feel is fairly smooth, with a little bite from the carbonation.

Tried this on tap at the brewery, and liked it enough to take a little home. Normally I avoid sour beers, but the restrained nature of the sour in this beer made it nicely drinkable. This would be a great beer on a summer day, goes down easy and nice and light, but a decent amount of flavor.

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Photo of SD-Alefan
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, bordering on cloudy, straw with a voluminous, foamy white head.
Aroma is mainly a lemony funk with a touch of vinegar and hay.
Taste is tart and funky, wheaty, juicy and soft.
Mouthfeel is medium, smooth and almost creamy.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.52/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Undated can into pint glass. Pours a hazy pale gold with a thin off-white head. Initial impression is fruity tartness. Mouthfeel and carbonation are both on the light side. Finish is smooth and dry with a lingering tartness. Kind of one-dimensional, in my opinion. It's very sessionable, but I'm not sure I could take that much tartness in big doses.

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Photo of Samlover55
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass no date
L- hazy pale blonde, with thin head
S- sourdough would be the best way describe the tart aroma with doughy notes
T- sweet and sour, this beer starts off with ever so slight sweet malt which is immediately balanced by a well balanced tartness, and finishes sour as well
F- super drinkable, light-to-medium bodied, crisp carbonation
O- this is one heck of a "session beer", could easily see myself drinking two or three of these in a row, great job on the style as well. I'm a big fan!!

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a straw yellow color with white head. Wheat, spice, citrus, and some bread on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes with a surprising tart note, refreshing but unexpected with this style of beer.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
3.77/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz can. Pours clean straw gold with thick fizzy head that fades down to a lasting layer, almost no lacing. Tart fruity aroma. Lemony Berliner tartness, apple candy sweetness, with a crisp dry finish. Very light and crushable, tartness at the right level. Solid light Berliner, good summer brew.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.01/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Look: Sunburnt gold with a white head that recedes to a small circular patch in the center. Little or no lacing.

Aroma: Faint salt, wheat grains, subtle lemon.

Taste: Pops a little more than the aroma with great lemon presence, wheat, and grapefruit in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light and dry.

Overall: Pretty nice example for the style. I like the lemon representation.

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Photo of Strike00
3.69/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

L: very light golden and hazy. White head dissipates quickly.
S: smells bright with a sour citrus/floral smell
T: nice sweet sour taste. nice yeasty flavor to it.
F: think and biting with carbonation.

O: not a bad Berliner Weiss at all.

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Photo of DerekP
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've seen two (count 'em) Berliner weissbiers in my life so it's hard for me to judge looks, but not surprisingly, given that this is from Bell's (easily in my top 5 favorite breweries), there's a nice head and sticky lacing to this brew. The smell is sour and tart, with sweeter hints of white vinegar. Tartness shines in the taste, with a body that makes this brew exceptionally drinkable. It's a wheat beer with a lemon-forward character. Unlike any brew I've ever imbibed, but if I had to compare it, I'd think back to my first saison (and only, though nothing against the style). Drink this.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
3.52/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour - golden yellow color decent white head so so lacing.

Smell - Tart little fruity and wheat some lemon as well.

Taste - Tart flavor, lemon zest, little bit of wheat.

Feel - Light body, higher carbonation, tart feel.

Overall - A good beer, great for summer.

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Photo of GrumpyGas
3.22/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz can pkgd 2/24/16 poured into a chilled pint glass.
Hazy yellow colored body with light and fleeting white head.
Aroma is citrus with some lactic. The flavor matches and adds some tart lemon. Mouthfeel is thin, almost oily, and the finish is dry.
A few of these in the golf course would be delicious.

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Photo of larryi86
3.89/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz can poured into a pint glass

A- A slightly hazy golden color with a three finger white head.

S- Some wheat, tart lemons, mild earth spice.

T- Wheat, some lemons, mild tartness, hint of lactic acid, touch of earthiness in the finish, slightly watery.

M- Smooth, light body.

O- A nice Berliner, easy to drink. Given the price and availability it is worth picking up.

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Photo of DaverCS
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy orange color with soda like carbonation and quickly dissolving head.

Aroma is slightly fruity, a solid amount of wheat, some malt sweetness, and a tad bit of an underlying tartness.

Taste is a bit watery and thin in carbonation, but still has a decent amount of flavor despite the ABV. Is it sour? No, not really; it has a nice wheat presence with some malt/honey-like sweetness and only a kiss of citrus in the finish. The "tartness" is more like a heavily diluted lemon juice.

Overall, light and refreshing. I get the appeal. I probably won't buy it again though. I see it pairing well with fresh watermelon dusted with chili powder, lime, and salt. It gets a 72/100.

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Oarsman Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.56 out of 5 based on 2,250 ratings.
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