Review of Bell’s Oarsman Ale

09 Jun
Today, I thought I would try another beer from Bell’s Brewery, Inc. situated in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This brew is produced year round and it’s called the Bell’s Oarsman Ale.   

Being that it’s been about 95 degrees in the shade lately in my part of the country, I thought it would be fitting to review a beer that’s a bit on the lighter side.

Bell’s produces some great beers, as most of you know, so I’m hoping this one maintains that great quality.

The website,, has this to say about the Oarsman 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.

Let’s do this!!! 

This beer comes in on the lighter side at 4.0% ABV and in a 12 oz. bottle with an nice, “artsy” label.  

After the pour, the beer appeared a very clear, yellow/straw color with a bright white, fizzy, soapy head.  The crown had not much size nor was the retention time very lengthy.  The lacing was minimal and even after several aggressive swirls of the glass, I got nothing. 
When I took the first whiff, I was smacked in the face with a very, very sweet and very sour smelling lemon citrus.  Man!!!  It’s strong in that regard.  Some hints of grain and grass seem to be there, but they are really pushed to the side.  There may be a bit of yeast in there too, but I couldn’t really tell because the sweet and sour lemon seemed to completely dominate the overall fragrance.  I didn’t find this to be very well balanced in the aroma department. 
 I proceeded to turn up the glass for a sip and was immediately greeted with an overpowering, sour, lemon “bite.”  It’s the kind of sourness that made me pucker my lips and squint in order to swallow.  It’s TART for sure!!!  It’s similar to drinking a watered down bottle of lemon juice.  After the beer started to warm, I was somehow able to detect a wheat savor that began to take some of the edge off and calm this thing down a bit.  
The mouthfeel was medium/light, crisp and refreshing, but not quite as smooth as I thought it might be.  It’s not as thirst quenching as I thought it should have been either.  It is mostly dry, however I didn’t find that it left much on the palate.  That wasn’t a bad thing at this point because my palate was completely overwhelmed from the extremely sweet and sour flavor profile.

I really like the brews that Bell’s produces.  It’s one of the few brewer’s, of which, I can pretty much obtain anything they make.  This beer, unfortunately, is not one of my favorites.  It’s just a bit too sour for me. I didn’t find it to be balanced very well either.  Again, this is just my opinion of how I viewed the beer.  If you favor more of the sourness in a brew, this beer could be a perfect fit for you.  I was able to finish the drink and I will admit that, after it warmed a bit, it became more bearable and easy going, but I don’t think I will try this again for a while.  Heck, if you guys see it, give it a try and let me know what you thought of it.

Over the next few posts I think I’m going to move away from the lighter, summer refreshers and try more malty beers.  I may be getting a bit fatigued with these crisp, light beers and they may be skewing my perceptions a bit.  Anyhow, stay tuned for more reviews.

Thanks for reading!!!! 


Score:  2.55 out of 5
Grade:  C-           

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Posted by on June 9, 2011 in Bell's, Country: USA


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