Call me a sucker for sour ales, but Bell’s Oarsman Ale is the hidden gem of the Bell’s lineup. While it’s understandable that Bell’s superb stout list take up the spotlight when the winter rolls around and it’s no wonder that Oberon and Two Hearted highlight the summer, I am floored that Oarsman Ale hasn’t made a bigger splash (pun very much intended). If you are taking a trek to the lake for the weekend or having an impromptu sailing excursion a six-pack of Oarsman Ale is a necessity in the icebox.
I first encountered Bell’s Oarsman Ale when I added it to a six-pack of my choice at one of my favorite shops, the Ale Jail in St. Paul, and I had no idea that it was a sour ale. By the label and the name, I assumed it was a summer ale with a bitter bite from a heaping of hops, but it was what the label failed to intimate that I found most pleasing about this beer: the tart finish from the sour mash process.
But sour ales are so intensely lip-puckering and palate-challenging, how could you drink one or…(gasp)…more than one in the heat of summer? Don’t fret my friends, Bell’s utilized the sour mash methods in a balanced way to produce a slight palate-cleansing tartness that continues to dance even after the band has stopped playing. This is no intimidating Rodenbach Grand Cru, but instead a wheat ale packed with tart citrus flavors perfect for a day on the water.
Best Enjoyed: Cold and on a boat
Best Paired With: Fresh oysters
Where to Find: While Bell’s is distributed all across the Midwest, visit the Bell’s website to find where the nearest location that carries Oarsman Ale is to you.
Need more beer? Not to worry, there’s a new edition of Suds right around the corner.