Beer Review 0108: Bell’s Oarsman Ale

Here’s a beer that’s definitely different from some of the other Bell’s offerings I’ve reviewed before: Oarsman Ale is a year round serving, and is a session beer coming in at just 4% ABV (alcohol by volume.) The Kalamazoo, Michigan company says this beer is brewed to impart a light and refreshing tartness, perfect for pairing with a meal.

I’m extremely interested to try this, considering Bell’s also makes Hopslam, which I absolutely love. (Who doesn’t?) Oarsman Ale isn’t exactly the polar opposite of Hopslam, but it’s pretty damn close. This one boasts a big grain bill with loads of wheat, and uses Bell’s house ale yeast.

The pour made an average size head, bright white and quickly diminishing. The texture of the head was very foamy, almost like tightly compacted soap suds. As for the liquid itself, it was straw yellow in color, with a very light sediment and cloudy. This beer left no lacing behind as I drank.

On the nose, Oarsman Ale is fairly malty, imparting notes of grain and caramel. There’s a light aroma of hops in the form of some citrus and I got a dough scent. What’s here is simple, pleasant, and faint.

Taking a taste, this is not what you expect given the aroma. You’re immediately hit with a tartness, bordering on a watered down sour candy. I’m not a lover of sour or tart beers, but I wasn’t overwhelmed, and the finish comes on strong with a solid taste of wheat.

Yes, there’s not a ton going on with this brew, but I did find it enjoyable. It is exactly what it claims to be, tart and refreshing, and I could see this going well with just about anything you’d want to eat with it.

I mentioned earlier that I’m not fond of tart or sour beers. There will (hopefully) be a few reviews of beers in this style coming up in the next few months, and I hope to expand my palate to get to know some of these beers better. I bet when I eventually do sample some of them, I’ll look back at Oarsman Ale and call it a good beginner.

I would return to this beer — and if you’re talking session, this would be a great one.

Bell’s Oarsman Ale, 83 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.


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