Oarsman Ale | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

BA SCORE
81
good
2,271 Ratings
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Oarsman AleOarsman Ale
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
2,271
Reviews:
639
Avg:
3.56
pDev:
15.45%
 
 
Wants:
84
Gots:
346
For Trade:
2
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,271 |  Reviews: 639
Photo of Sammy
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sorry Bell's. I thought this was a lager based on the mouthfeel. I got some lemon and sourness out in front, didn't like it, and went for a perrier with lemon instead. Fresh bottle from Cleveland.So not so drinkable, didn't care for the smell, the mouthfeel. You get the picture.

 279 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%

Photo of kylehay2004
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of jaydoc
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kzoobrew for sending me this one!

Pours a murky light yellow with a 1/2 inch foamy white head that fades to an oily film. No lacing whatsoever. Smell is of wheat, lemons, and a sour aroma. Taste is of wheat, lemon/citrus, and a slightly sour flavor. A nice tart flavor lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a very crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good refreshing beer with a nice pleasant tartness. I am glad I got to try this one.

 502 characters

Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

 1,096 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of Knapp85
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. The beer is very light looking. Very clean and clear brew with some bubbles rising periodically. The Head wasn't too much of anything really. The smell had something like a funky aroma, not strong like a lambic but very light hint of it in there. That little hint from the nose come over onto the tongue with each sip. It's quite a different beer. I don't recall having something similar to this before. Not a bad brew at all, but not my favorite.

 487 characters

Photo of t0rin0
2.75/5  rDev -22.8%

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +12.4%

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy light yellow in color and somewhat resembles lemonade. It poured with a quarter finger high white head that quickly died down and left a bit of lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of sourness in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has a moderate amount of sourness, but that’s about it. The sourness is neither strong nor overpowering (and doesn’t have any funkiness like in a gueuze).
M: It feels light-bodied and a bit tart on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer really cleanses your palate, similar to what you would expect from a light sorbet between courses at dinner.

 721 characters

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

Wheat-heavy and sharply acidic, this American Wheat is estery, phenolic, rich, and crisp- a lot going on for a beer style that catches a lot of criticism.

The beer pours a murky golden color with a froathy-fizzy head that disapoints with it's head retention; reducing to a trace very quickly and struggles to exist for the first quarter of the session.

Aromas of wheat dominate the beer (this beer obviously uses much more wheat than the norm). Spicy rye-like scents combine with lemon and apple esters, almost-smoky phenolics, and an earthy sweetness than hinges on sourdough breads and tobacco.

Flavors are acidic and lemony up front with a bright and crisp start. But the wheaty/spicy notes take the sharp flavors into a more mellow bread and white pepper taste. The bready-sweet flavors intensify towards the finish and stray from the lemony start. Pungent, earthy, and a pleasant graininess persists late in the finish. The beer takes a very German-like maltiness and yeastiness but an English-like hop identity.

Likewise, the beer starts lemony in mouthfeel with a palate-stripping acidic feel. But the beer takes on a more full, malty, bready texture as the beer makes its transition into the finish. Earthy, bitey, and mildly astringent late.

Oarsman seems to take a reverse procession than what beers normally do. The usual transition is from a creamy-sweet start into a dry-acidic finish. This beer starts with the lemony-acidic start into a froathy-bready-earthy finish. Although this beer is characterful, drinkable, and complex it's still an American Wheat Ale that pales in comparison to traditional German Hefeweizens.

 1,638 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up at Ramirez Liquors in Los Angeles. I'm always glad to see increased distribution of a brewery with a reputation like Bell's, but I was really disappointed with Expedition Stout. I'm hoping this one changes my mind about Bell's. Bottled 09/07/12. Reviewed live. 4.0% ABV confirmed. 355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California.

Expectations are above average; I've only been disappointed by this brewery but I'm hoping that was a fluke. This style is very hit and miss, though - especially with American breweries. At least there's no candi sugar added post-brewing, so that's a leg up on some German examples of the style.

Served after a period of rest from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger beige colour head of fair cream, decent thickness, and average (~2 minute) retention. Colour is a cloudy pale lemon yellow. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Nontransparent; largely opaque. Suits the style.

Sm: Lactic, even a bit acidic. Some funk; I certainly get the sour mash from the aroma. I'll risk pretention and call it horseblanket. Some lurking sweetness. I find the aroma a bit of a turnoff, actually. There's a lemon citrus ester in there that I like, but the rest seems off. Moderate in strength. Assertive.

T: A bit funky on the finish. Clean pale sour mash malts. Lemon citrus, though diluted. It's best on the finish, where the acidic lemon comes through for a crisp clear moment - a change from the murky build of the body. A bit tart, sure. Very clean throughout. No real yeast comes through. Quite lactic throughout; lactic notes are dominant. Balanced if simple. Actually one of the better examples of the style in recent memory.

Mf: Crisp, clean, smooth, light, and wet. A touch overcarbonated. Good thickness, supporting the flavours adequately. I'd stop short of refreshing, but it flirts with it.

Dr: Very drinkable. Low ABV. One of the better beers I've had in this style. I might try it on draught. A solid effort from Bell's. There's serious promise here.

B

Would suit an acidic salad magnificently. A good beer for food pairing in general.

 2,346 characters

Photo of oline73
2.57/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with a finger of white head. The head fades quickly to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Light malt and a slight tartness. Smells good, but here is where I started to worry about how much flavor was going to be in this one.

Taste: This beer has a very light flavor. It might be good with the amount of the flavor, but there needs to be a lot more tartness. This is a pretty boring beer.

Mouthfeel: Light body with sharp carbonation and a slightly dry finish.

Overall: I've been into some Berliner Weissbiers of late and have had a few good ones. This is not one of them. Too plain, I wouldn't have another.

 719 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy lemon color with a modest whipped egg white head that fails to leave any lace; I haven't had too much exposure to the Berliner Weisse style but if memory serves, they tend not to produce much of a head, so I am rating this by giving them the benefit of the doubt

Smell: Bready, with a reasonable amount of lemony tartness

Taste: Starts out with a crusty bread character, with the lemony element taking charge by mid-palate; after the swallow, the lemon flavors persist, though the breadiness returns to provide some balance

Mouthfeel: Light body with prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Though it is not a true Berliner Weisse, I think Bell's has stumbled onto something here as I really enjoyed the lightness and tartness; the beer would also pair well with a range of foods; it might not be every BA's cup of tea but it is a beer with potential mass appeal that I wouldn't mind drinking on a range of occasions

 939 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of emerge077
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a Berliner Weisse/American Wheat hybrid style.

Bright gold, slight haze once the yeast is poured. Steadfast cap of bone white foam, creating thick sheets of lace as it's sipped. Very attractive bright pastel gold.

Aroma of white grapes, minerals, dusty wheat, signature Berliner Weisse traits.

Mildly sharp lactic acid tartness, with wheaty creaminess settling in after the initial tart snap. Firm wheat flavor, sour crabapple, and mild grape notes, soft and ethereal. Even carbonation, soft feel, not even approaching puckering, rather a mild pleasant tartness. Sublime in it's simplicity, this is something i'd crave on a hot summer day. Ultimately sessionable at 4%, and sadly misunderstood.

 707 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of zeff80
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Sycamore, Columbia, MO during Bell's beer dinner.

A - Poured a cloudy, golden-yellow color with a white one-finger head of bubbly foam. It left subtle traces of lace.

S - It smelled of wheat, yeast, spices and fruits.

T - Good sweet wheat flavor with a potent sour fruit flavor. A little funky spice and yeastiness makes it seem Belgian-style.

M - It was crisp and very sharp. A light brew that would be very sessionable during the summer months.

D - This is a very nice Berliner Weiss. It's only my second but it was quite delicious.

 549 characters

Photo of dmorgan310
4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

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Oarsman Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.56 out of 5 based on 2,271 ratings.
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