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

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Bell's OarsmanBell's Oarsman

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

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: 619 | Ratings: 2,185
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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Photo of baconfromwalmart
3.39/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

L: Clear straw yellow with a substantial white, fluffy head.
S: Vinegary funk, a bit of yeast and grain.
T: Not too much up front, vinegary sourness in the back of the throat. I was expecting at least a little flavorful tartness... Probably the least sour sour beer I've had to date. Rather disappointing.
F: A bit thin.

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Photo of leannlovr
4.65/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Nice crisp taste. Easy to drink down in gulps. Light on the alcohol content which means you'll last longer at a drinking session. I had this in a glass poured from the bottle at Montana's Ale House in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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Photo of Vogie
3.92/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into the new Bells American wheat glass made by Spiegelau. Bottled 11/13/14.

Pours a straw color with two finger thick white pancake head the leaves some misty lacing and a ring around the edges. Aroma is rather funky with hints of tomato juice, tart apples, and wheat malt. Taste is very light. Hints of grain, lemon peel, wheat, bread, green apples, citrus. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, clean, refreshing, and decent carbonation.

A palate-cleansing highly sessionable cross between an American wheat and a Berliner Weissbier? Yes Bells, you nailed it. It doesn't light the world on fire but it doesn't need to. An excellent example of crafting beer with finesse.

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Photo of socon67
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Vey odd beer. The pour was a fantastic golden color with high soapy foam. Perfect for the style. The smell however, had some skunky, musty smell. Taste had a decent light feel with a tart finish. Very smooth feel consistent with the style.

Decent beer, but I have enjoyed other Berliners much more.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.39/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very pale yellow, nearly clear. Smells light, slight sour and wheat. Effervescent wheat flavor and a little green apple tartness. Sessionable too, we have a winner!

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Photo of crob3888
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'd place this somewhere between an American pale wheat ale and a true Berliner weisse. Bell's gets major props for packaging this in six packs; not many other breweries that distribute to my area do so. This goes down easy for those hot summer days (of which we have a lot in Southern California) and it is extremely thirst quenching. Wheat, slight tart lemon flavor, and a light body with lots of carbonation and a dry slightly tart finish keeps you coming back for more. If you're expecting tons of flavors, look elsewhere. Actually, don't, you should still try this and maybe open your palate up to the subtle finesse of a nicely executed beer that won't destroy you in 100 degree heat and pairs excellently with any food.

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Photo of zdk9
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Pours a very hazy yellow to orange depending on the light. The slender head dissipates quickly.

S- The distinct slightly sour aroma of wonder bread starting to mold before it's actually moldy. A bit of corn, almost popcorn, almost butter popcorn. Crackers.

T- A pleasant tartness. Getting more pleasant as I drink it. It's sort of a sweet rice wine vinegar. Maybe a pinch of floral flavor. A little bit of light malt, kind of a water cracker or very light and airy sourdough bread.

M- Light, the tartness doesn't stick around like you might expect.

O- Good taste. A very easy light drinker with some complexity from the sourness. Would make an excellent summer beer

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Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
3.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 01/29/15

Look - Pours a very pretty light honey gold. Slight haze, beautiful frothy head. Head slowly dissipates to a nice cap, with good distribution. Good clinging. 4.5 paws.

Smell - A bit minerally, a little bit of funk, metallic, barnyard, hay, lemon and orange zest. Not super inviting. 3 paws.

Taste - A good amount of American wheat flavor, lemon, grassy hops, a touch of honey, only the slightest tinge of sourness. A bit of white grape and apple, slightly peppery, with a mineral/metal finish. Very refreshing. 3.75 paws.

Feel - Very thin and crisp. Most of the tingle is towards the back of the tongue. Light and easy drinking. 4.5 paws.

Overall - It rings true on some notes, but falls flat on others. Not really sour enough to be called a berliner weisse, more of a light American wheat beer. Very refreshing, good warm weather, outdoors beer, but the minerality is a bit off-putting. 3.5 paws.

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Photo of oldbizmark
4.6/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

another great beer from the guy's at bell's. beautifully balanced easy drinking sour. if i had one complaint, i would say that it the flavor doesn't last. just drink and taste and then gone. not a bad thing especially when coupled with food. just seems a but thin.

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Bell's Oarsman from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
81 out of 100 based on 619 ratings.
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