Bell’s Oarsman Ale presents itself in a beautifully designed light blue packaging that catches the eye. The classic artwork is a nod to the brewery’s more conservative roots, making Oarsman stand out on the shelves. The recent switch to 12oz cans and broader distribution is a welcome move, especially with a reasonable 6-pack price of $11.


Opening a can of Oarsman releases a distinctive aroma that divides opinion. For enthusiasts like myself, the scent is reminiscent of sour cherries with a decidedly funky undertone. However, my wife, an enduring skeptic of Oarsman, perceives it as something less flattering – a challenging mix of vomit and funk. Despite the polarizing reactions, the beer’s nose is undeniably unique.


As a classic example of Berliner Weisse, Oarsman delivers the expected funk, creamy wheat beer texture, and low acidity. The flavor profile is lactic, milky, and yogurty, with a touch of effervescence reminiscent of kefir. The tart cherry notes are present but fleeting, leaving a distinct impression on the palate. The divisive nature of Oarsman is evident, with some reveling in its uniqueness while others may find it off-putting.


The mouthfeel of Oarsman is a highlight, offering an effervescent, creamy, and refreshing experience, all at a modest 4% ABV. The beer truly shines with its lengthy, palate-enveloping, thickly lactic finish. Whether enjoyed straight from the can or in a glass, the texture contributes to the overall appeal of this Berliner Weisse.


Oarsman Ale remains a divisive choice among beer enthusiasts, with staunch supporters and vocal detractors. Despite the contrasting opinions, the beer’s availability has expanded, reaching both the east and west coasts. Whether sipped on a summer beach day or stocked in the fridge year-round, Oarsman’s unique blend of flavors and distinctive characteristics make it a noteworthy addition to Bell’s Brewery lineup. While some may find it an exquisite and perfect summer companion, others might hesitate due to its polarizing nature. Ultimately, Bell’s Oarsman Ale is a testament to the brewery’s willingness to push boundaries within the realm of tradition.