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: 627 | Ratings: 2,227
Photo of angelmonster
3.96/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, yellow, fizzy body. Head is super thin and white. Head retention and lacing were average.

Smell is of straw malt, lemon zest, and peppery saison/hefeweizen yeast. No hops or alcohol detected.

Taste is of acidic, slightly sour, pale, straw malt. Tastes like a corona with a lime added, I think I've used that descriptor with Westbrook Gose as well.

Mouthfeel is light and very well carbonated. Head dissipated quickly unfortunately and lacto yeast left a puckering sensation on the palate.

Overall this beer was a refreshing, session able berliner. Nothing remarkable but a solid and easy to obtain ale. Would like to enjoy this one on a hot summer day.

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Photo of JLaw55
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was pleasant and slightly sour. Definitely a starter for the uninitiated to the style. This is about as mild as they come. Even my wife, who hates anything sour, liked it. While it was pleasant and I would drink again, the big thing for me as that there wasn't a whole lot of flavor behind the sour. It was just a little bit of wheat and not much else.

Would Drink Again: Yes
Would Purchase Again: No

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had at Ye Olde Saloon in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I've wanted to try this beer for quite a few years but never got around to actually trying it. Finally, I'm having my first Oarsman, and my first Berliner Weissbier. Well, I'm not a fan, unfortunately. All I could think when drinking this is that it tastes like a silghtly sour Witbier. I like sours, but Witbiers are one of my least favorite styles, for whatever reason. I'm trying to not let that influence me in this review, but no doubt it is. It really just has the typical coriander/clove/banana sorts of flavors that a Witbier would have, with a little bit of a "twang" tartness/sourness to it. It's different enough that I'd try it again, but it definitely wouldn't be a go-to for me. It's memorable, so it has that going for it. I would also say it's not boring, and has a relatively big flavor for a beer that's only 4%. Still, I can't quite help it -- it's just a beer that I'm not personally "feeling."

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Photo of Raime
2.99/5  rDev -16%
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 ordybill
4.16/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass at the World of Beer in Pooler, GA. This was a very refreshing Berliner Weissbier. The beer has a slightly tart fruit flavor that goes well in the hot weather.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love this offering from Bell's. It's simple, but very nicely done. I would call it a great introduction to sour beers, for someone who is interested in them but doesn't like the extreme sour beers. Its got a quick bit of tartness that finishes clean and crisp. Some herbal notes in the flavor. Nicely carbonated. Very sessionable. Very refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Photo of jwc215
3.59/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Packaged on 07/02/15:

Pours clouded golden. A thin fizzy white head leaves some dotted lacing. Not much head retention or lacing - but not unusual for the style.

The smell is of tart (fruity), sour bready yeast.

The taste is of relatively mild sour (touch of vinegar) - yeast/bread. Finishes with a light sour character.

Crisp, light and refreshing.

A nice, milder take on the style.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The look of this beer is a light straw color with a small fizzy white head that disappears almost instantly. Smell is citrus, floral, wheat and tart. Taste is citrus and wheat with a little bit of tart coming through on the back end. Feel is very light, crisp and refreshing. Overall I enjoyed this beer and would buy again. Perfect yard work beer.

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Photo of Bottleguy
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

My first experience with a berliner; I very much enjoyed this as a single purchase, so I bought a 6'er shortly after. The single taste significantly different than the six pack I purchased, so much so that I was dishearted from purchasing this beer again. On review of the single, lightly carbonated, hints of vinegar, overall very drinkable. The six pack on the other hand, overwhelmingly sour, with almost a sour milk taste. Perhaps I'll purchase again.

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Photo of ghengisflan
4.22/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Unfiltered, straw yellow. No head and no lacing.

Smell: The sour smell definitely predominates.

Taste: A subtler sour taste than might be expected at first sniff, over a background wheat ale.

Feel: Well carbonated, but not excessively so.

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Photo of Zonk
3.77/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Mild vinegar and grapes on the nose, smelling a bit like an acidic white wine. Thin but refreshing on the palate with just a hint of sour. Refreshing summer beer.

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

Served on tap at kite and key Philadelphia. Cloudy white yellow with some white foam. Citrus nose, spices too. Taste is a light clean citrus based malt. Subtle tartness, but not sour. Smooth. Quite refreshing, nice session able summer brew.

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

This beer pours a pale straw with plenty of meringue-like head. The aroma is biscuity, with a pleasant hint of vinegar. The taste is straight up summer refreshment. The lovely acid hits you first, as well as the bready, yeasty, sourdough flavor. The mouthfeel is rather thin and a bit flat despite the head. That is the only disappointing feature of this summer classic. Unbeatable for the price.

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Photo of alexanderplatz
3.23/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Practically no aroma,

Taste: The first word that comes to mind is "inoffensive." It isn't very strong in taste was a little overpowered by food. Overall I would compare it to a somewhat watered-down version of Bell's Oberon.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.92/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a vibrant, slightly hazy straw with maybe 1/4" fizzy white head that's gone in an instant. Retention is barely there, lacing just isn't there.

S: Proper lactic tartness, hints of sour apple, grape must. Smells great!

T: Comes on off-sweet & bready. Mid palate is dominated by subtle grapey notes. Finishes with a really nice tart lactic sourness. Simple, but VERY effective.

M: Style-appropriate. Moderate/high carb married to a light, crisp, soda-like body.

O: I love it. It's such a straightforward & enjoyable Berliner. No frills, accessibly tart & totally quaffable.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.22/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, served in a Bell's snifter.

Pours a slightly hazy lemon-yellow body, two finger fluffy white head that fits the glass perfectly. Smells of mild lemon, wheat, not a whole lot else. Minimal bread and lacto. Flavour is fairly bland; wheat, a mild bit of lemon and that's about it. No tartness, oak or much depth at all to it. Still, it's a fairly refreshing Berliner and probably closer to the old style than the likes of De Garde Bu Weisse, for example. Mouthfeel is lighter bodied, slightly drying with a good bit of carbonation, very refreshing with a bit of wheat and non-descript sweetness on the finish. Overall, decent berliner weisse that doesn't deliver much flavour, but is refreshing just the same.

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Photo of MVG7113
2.84/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I always seem to end up reviewing the beers that I don't particularly love. I can't say why this is the case--but it definitely seems that way!

I knew nothing about this beer and was actually expecting a traditional ale style beer, not a berliner-weisse. Initially, I was really disappointed because this beer was just not what I was looking for tonight (even though I actually picked up a Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weiss also). Nonetheless, I'll probably end up drinking to entire 6-pack to make sure the 'session' description from Bells is put to work.

A: Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (packed in early March) into a 16 oz. tulip glass. A finger of white fluffy head appears and dissipate to a nice ring, leaving minimal lacing throughout. The beer really looks well--a light golden straw appearance that you can't quite see through. Good on looks, but not blowing me away.

S: Kind of an odd smell. Some Bell's beers are always producing a funky scent to me, this beer is consistent with that. Aside from the funk, theres a hit of lemon on the nose, maybe some honey accompanying it. Kind of lemony-grassy, but not quite. Also, a scent of wheat breaks through. At first, I thought I was picking up a somewhat metallic scent, but that seems to fluctuate. Really though, there isn't a pungent aroma here, which is consistent with the style.

T: Very light, with some sour-lemon (but not that sour) followed by the wheat aspect of the beer. Like I said, I wasn't looking for a sour wheat beer tonight. But for the style, this is nice, refreshing, and a nice break from some of the other, more popular styles.

F: Again, very light, with sour being the initial feel. It's almost like a light/dry/tart feel. The more I'm thinking about it, the higher my rating is getting.

O: For the style, this beer is good. Almost unique. It's kind of dry, not a lot of carbonation. But it remains crisp and light--with good flavors coming out. Not what I wanted, but good.

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Photo of BillRoth
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very pleasantly surprised after reading ratings/reviews. Had on tap at Ocean Odyssey Cambridge MD.
Very tasty tart wheat ale.
And fantastic with salty Chesapeake Bay oysters.
I'll hold on comparisons to Berliner Weisse...but this is a very nice tasty summer brew...for those who like a bit of tartness.

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
3.79/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle to pilsner glass. Produces a couple fingers of fizzy, active head that dissipates pretty quickly to a thick, centimeter cap with good retention. Not much lacing to speak of. Pale straw in color, crystal clear with lots of active carbonation. So far, pretty close to style. There's a funky sourness on the nose, some mild sourdough bread. Taste, while tart, is nowhere near as sour as the nose would promise. Refreshing, with a nice citrus zing on the end. Clean on the palate. There's a feeling of a sour green apples. Taste is delicate, never overpowering. Great selection for muggy, hot days and crisp fall afternoons I would say.

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Photo of Mikus
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Perfect example of reverse hype. I was not expecting ANYTHING from this beer, despite liking some Bell's quite a bit. Bottled on 2/19/15, but not an issue to style. Slightly tart, hint of nuttiness on the nose, Crisp, dry finish. Refreshing, clean, and unexpected winner here.

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

My first sour mash wheat ale. Pours a thin soapy head over light golden color. Has a nicely-rounded sour taste that does not overwhelm. Surprisingly refreshing for a sour ale. At 4% ABV, its easy to enjoy more than one. Will be having this again.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.09/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

With Bell's available in Orange County, getting to know the rest of their lineup is easier than ever for this Californian. Oarsman gets the tick, and on to the beer:

Very pale yellow colored, topped with a half-inch of soapy suds on top. The head retention that it displays is okay. The aroma is lightly sour, bringing a kiss of lemon cleaner to mind. Not very intense, but intriguing. Oarsman is a very light beer is flavor, and even by the Berliner Weisses that I have tasted. I appreciate the sour and acidic character, however they are very light. For a day on the boat or with a meal, Oarsman would work well. In the world of beer, it's on the weaker side.

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Photo of Cottontown201
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
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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Photo of santomark
2.8/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Alright I'm editing this one. I had a bad batch before. But got a decent one.

A: poured a nice lemonade, watered yellow, almost light beer body. Soapy head 1 finger width, disappears pretty fast.

S - This smells like a lager almost. Yeast is very subtle with spice, and zest.

T - Tastes like a shandy but isn't lemonade tasting dominate. This tastes like a crisp vibrant beer that has subtle hints of a shandy. Towards the end you get a bit of the sour. Very reminiscent of a lager when served cold.

M - Very light bodied. Heavily carbonated.

O - This is a great representation of the shandy style. Shandys seem to taste very sweet and nothing like beer. This however is a very beer dominate shandy. I wont be having this again. For the price of a 6 pack. I will pass. If I'm going for a session beer, I'm also going for price. And this beer false short of affordability and taste.

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Photo of MNJR
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Light and refreshing. Not like a normal wheat beer, if that's even what it is. Tastes lemony and pilsner-ish. A nice, simple beer from Bell's. Good for sitting on the beach and downing a few on a hot day.

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Oarsman Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.56 out of 5 based on 2,227 ratings.
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