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The Oracle - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
The OracleThe Oracle

Educational use only; do not reuse.

719 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 719
Hads: 2,447
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 19.62%
Wants: 456
Gots: 345 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-04-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 719 | Hads: 2,447
Photo of beerdedking
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%

Perhaps it was my much too high expectation of this that I was let down. I've had many examples of DIPAs, and The Oracle didn't live up to most.

The pour leaves me optimistic as it immediately appears like a glass of thick and chewy hops. Which it is. Brownish copper (like its label) in color with a two finger head, the hops come right at the nose, and I'm still thinking this will be awesome.
Ubiquitous hop flavors of pine and grapefruit are nice, but the bitterness kicks in too early before the hop complexity can get going.
Also this lacks the palate leveling quality of hop resin soaking into the taste buds. Bells, give us Hopslam twice/year, and take The Oracle back in for an overhaul...

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Photo of nick76
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The aroma is intensely hoppy with grass and citrus with caramel malt in the back seat. The appearance is amber with a head that's big for the style. Taste wise it's very much in line with the aroma. There is also a bit of astringency. The palate is very smooth. Overall a quality beer that just doesn't impress me as much as most people here.

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Photo of xraided81
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to match1112 for sending this as an extra, if you are ever looking for anything from the westcoast I will send it your way!

a: pours a bright golden color with copper highlights. persistent 1/2 inch white head.

smell: candied dried pineaples come to mind, crystal, caramelized malts in aroma

t: malty sweetness, grassy hops, earth greens, caramel, toffe

m: full bodied beer, persistent carbonation on the palate

o: Malt forward double ipa. hops seemed to be fading away from this beer. i mainly drink westcoast ipas, so its been great to experience ipas from different parts of the country

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Photo of craytonic
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Sun drenched honey-tangerine head. Nice head and lacing, I was looking forward to this after I got it open. Thoughts of Pliny came to mind.

Smell: Big hops, malt, grapefruit, pineapple, orange.

Taste: Big hops, with pineapple, grapefruit, orange, pine sap, etc all in play. Alcohol is there as well, they did not quite mask it.

Mouthfeel: Full, but not as smooth as I expected.

Drinkability: If I hadn't had Pliny the younger and elder, I would love this one.

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.64/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on 8/9/2013, reviewed from notes. Bell's lack of specific release dates is frustrating, because I had to make several dozen phone calls to find this guy a mere two hours from the brewery. My first experience with it four years ago was magical.

A - pretty good looking. Dark oranges and browns and little head produced on the forced pour. Mostly translucent.

S - the first thing that hits you is booze, then bitterness, followed by a faint, dank hop profile that signals a stickiness in taste and texture. Not altogether pleasant, but certainly not unpleasant.

T - too bitter, much too bitter. The sweet hop profile is lost almost completely to the bitter one, which, combined with a malt-forward finish, makes this beer taste almost like anise. The accompanying 10% ABV doesn't help things. There's hardly anything sweet here. It reminds me very much of Leviathan.

M - again, bitterness and booziness pervade. The lasting impression is a sticky booze bomb .

O - well, as with just about everything, the memory is better than the repeated experience. I wouldn't turn this down at a party of course, but I won't go out of my way or make any more phone calls for it. It would be interesting to sit on for a few months.

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Photo of Buebie
3.64/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of gford217

Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an oversized snifter. A rigorous pour has produced about an inch of off white head. Appearance is a murky dark golden orange with hints of amber.
Slick light lace drapes.

Aroma is very biscuit like, plenty of yeasty funk and pankcake aroma.
Mild leafy hops at the nose and no alcohol.

Taste is also bready with big amounts of buttered rolls, plenty of malt backing with a good grainy kick.
Spicy earthy hops, sweet flavors throughout. Pine resin with a bitter mouth puckering grapefruit rind flavor. Finishing with rind and melon flavors. Hops linger, as do some mild malty notes.

Mouthfeel is slick and full bodied with moderate carbonation.

For a dipa this seems to lack in hops at the nose. Hops deliver in taste. The heat that some mentioned is not noticeable to me at all and almost non existent. A good dipa, but nothing exceptionally outstanding.

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Photo of bobhits
3.64/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Orange/amber color, with a thick creamy eggshell white head (we're talking this could be used as a pillow), that leaves amazing amounts of lacing down the glass. As one would expect of a big DIPA, there isn't much bubbling action going on in the glass after the pour.

Sure hop resin full of citrus hops. There isn't a huge nose on this and the nose there truly is all hop and there's nothing wrong with that!

Opens with a caramel malt and quickly goes to a piney, grape fruity....just over powering hop flavor. A bit of alcohol in the finish and we're done.

Thick and creamy mouth. There isn't much carbonation and a good bite from the alcohol at the end. At 10% though this is thinner than i remember stone 10 year, hop slam, and some of the other big IIPA's.

This beer is going to end my desire for beer for the night, but it's darn good. That or in a few minutes from this review I'll be drinking a second one.

This isn't the flavor attacking beer I would have loved, but if this isn't just a darn good example of the style I don't know what is. That said I can think of 3-4 double IPA's I'd take over it off the top of my head. Though I think the way the malt balances this is rather unique and extremely good. There's plenty of reasons to seek this bad boy out.

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Photo of beagle75
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, medium amber color with one finger of off-white foam head. Heavy lacing remains and fine streams of bubbles rise at varied rates from the bottom and sides of the glass.

S: Overripe tropical fruit and coniferous foliage are classically joined in the smell, suggesting sweetness as well as powerful aromatics to come in the flavor. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins far off-dry, with a preemptive hit of booze that combines with caramel and fruity esters to create an illusion of spirituous brandy. Minerals are also present early, vitamin-like. Acidity is aggressive, influencing the taste but in a fairly positive way. The middle sees fruitiness persist, turning more citrusy thanks to the citric acid influences. Intense bitterness comes on strong before the finish, adhering to the palate with apparently no plans to depart. Malt is finally established into the finish, showing some crisp bready flavors that are obscured only by the ongoing medicinal bitter presence.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, very sticky on the palate showing a fiery alcohol burn, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: There is frequently a point in the development of a DIPA when the line gets crossed, where a well-intended project goes off the rails. This beer walks that line, and it is not clear to the drinker which side of the line it is on. It is best appreciated by the nose, with some of the suggested qualities showing up in the taste but in the presence of a whole handful of other, less appealing flavors. This is one of the most spirituous DIPAs encountered that manages to remain some kind of drinkable. It is intense, and that intensity does take a toll on the palate--due to the extreme bitterness as well as the often hot alcohol presence. While not endearing, it does offer the DIPA enthusiast a point of reference for the comparison of Bell's other hoppy beers.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a really cool lost abbey glass, The Oracle Dipa has a golden amber color with some glow, and a bit of hop haze. Head is sticky and lacy, but it has some large bubbles.

The aroma is too mild for a DIPA, as I expect a ton of hops in mine. While the aroma doesn't carry the most in-your-face hop punch, it's quite interesting. At first I was getting a candy character, like a grape or cherry jolly rancher. Now I'm getting candied orange minus any citric aroma. As it warms, more apricot comes through. I just wish this beer had more strength in the hops.

The taste is super bitter, with some pine flavor running along with it. I'm getting some burnt sugar, and I assume they use some sugar in the beer. Again, I'm getting that orange character without the citrusy aspect. This is a nice, burning, bitter tasting DIPA.

The mouthfeel is really nice, it feels like bitter, oily hop juice. There is a bit too much of an afterburn on the palate. This was a nice DIPA, and I'd like to try some more beers from this brewery.

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Photo of AshleyMiller
3.65/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to jmarsh123 for throwing in this great extra. poured into my stone cali-belgique tulip.

a- pours a darker, reddish amber with a two-finger head, and lots of lacing, good retention as well

s- a great mix of sweet and grapefruit-fragrant hops

t- nothing sweet, just bitter and the hops linger in the back of my throat long after swallowing, though not as strong as most ipas i've had. lots of grapefruit in this one

m- lighter-bodied with surprisingly not a lot of carbonation - i'd like to see a bit more to be honest

o- good, goes down easy and quickly though the bitterness lingers. i can't tease out the hops, nor am i overwhelmed by them. a good ipa but not a great one. glad i tried it, and paired great with some cabot pepperjack cheese

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.66/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date - 08/12/11
12oz to pint

A: The Oracle pours a clear caramel pale color with a soapy half finger khaki head that draped lace with every sip.

S: Smells of bready malts and toffee. Spicey hops with some floral pine notes and a touch of citrus oils.

T: Big 'n' juicy. Big caramel sweetness. Decent amount of hop bitterness that comes through spice and resiny pine. Touch boozy. Def. warming. Little bit of citrus orange spice to it. Pretty good. Alcohol mucho.

M: Considerably light body for a big DIPA. Sticky sleek mouthcoat. Rather smooth mf overall.

D: I found the Oracle to be a rather smooth and nice sipper overall.

A bit on the boozy sweet side for my tastes. Good dose of hops but just not enough to counter the big malt bill here.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.67/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A bottle shared by largadeer at a BA tasting. Even though we shared 3 very strong beers before this one, it was so strong that I feel confident I managed to experience its full range of flavors. As Chris put it: "this is a palate-raping beer."

A: Pours a cloudy, effervescent amber body. A vigorous pour filled the glass with substantial foam for even the small sample size; it receded slowly and left some lacing behind. Nice.

S: Pineapple and assorted tropical fruit (I swear I pick up lychee, but then I am craving lychees). Tangerine, orange. A touch of biscuit. Great aroma.

T: Wow, tongue-bruising and palate-raping. Tons of pineapple citrus, but it's almost like drinking pineapple juice, which reminds you of that small cut on your tongue. Enamel-peeling and harsh. Mango / grapefruit / tangerine blend. I get the biscuit malt I smelled in the nose, but it's very subtle and easy to miss on most of the sips. The beer finishes hugely bitter. It's similar to HopSlam in some respects, but not as enjoyable.

M: Wayyy more bitter than I enjoy; I like a clean flavor. Noticeable booze. Medium-bodied, medium carbonation.

D: Points for extreme flavor, but this is a beer that throws balance by the wayside and kicks it while it's down. I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to trade for this, but if it were shared again, I wouldn't turn it down. An enjoyable beer, just not something I'd use as an ideal representation of the style.

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Photo of cwguy5
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Brawley's for this one!

A - deep golden, orange color with one finger, bubbly head; faded to nice a covering cap with enormous amounts of lacing
S - aromatic hops, then malt and bread, then pine
T - bitter in front followed by brief pineapple then huge piney, bitterness at end
M - velvety smooth; medium carbonation with fine, foamy bubbles
D - drinkability for me is low here; not sure if this is from the bitterness or the lack of much fruit or anything beyond pine oil; just not my favorite palate for a big ipa

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Photo of ARoman
3.69/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. The aroma is a bright toffee, tropical, floral citrus blend with an undertones of light woody, alcohol, and burnt molasses; not too similar from a fresh barleywine. It pours a murky pale orange with a white, small suds, filmy head that has good retention and lace. It's highly bitter with a medium citrus sweet, but the bitterness dampens with warmth. The texture is chewy, sticky, and a bit syrupy with a fuzzy carbonation and a full body. The palate contains a strong grain character with a burnt quality as well as bitter citrus, wax, floral, and a strengthening caramel note late. The finish is initially crisp zippy with a bread crust quality although it loses this edge with warnth and turns smooth and syrupy. There's a resinous and waxy, cloying aftertaste with notes of bitter cough medicine and a strong bitter floral; overall it's aftertaste is prominent and lingering. This definitely qualifies as a west coast palate wrecker, and best served at cellar temp.

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Photo of jtingue
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Relaease. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance. Light amber in color. Pours with 2 fingers of head which dissipates to a half a finger which lingers for quite a while.

Smell. Nice citrus hop aromas with some pineyness as well.

Taste. Starts out with a slightly sweet citrus. This slowly transitions to a pretty heavy bitterness that is resinous, but not without a substantial amount of malty sweetness. Lots of hop flavors that is citric with lots of lemon. There is quite an alcoholic presence that is very reminiscent of bourbon whiskey. The finish is again bitter and resinous.

Mouthfeel. Nice thick creamy body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Quite a nice mouthfeel for a dipa, right up my alley.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

09/29/10- Had a 12 oz bottle of the batch 9901.
A: Hazy dark amber, nice creamy thick film.
S: Musty/earthy/piney hops, beet sugar and honey, nice white wine and creamy vanilla.
T: Very bitter piney hops finish; nice honey and clean wood characteristics. Tastes like a West-Coast IPA, which is what they were going for.
M: Moderately syrupy, nicely frothy.
D: Not too bad. One or two bottles is fine.

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Photo of zrab11
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a orange color with a nice 1 finger head. Great lacing all the way down.

S- Has a nice citrus aroma , also get some hints of carmel and pine.. with some hop aroma as well

T- Starts off with a nice citrus carmel flavor followed by a grapefruit middle and a strong piney bitter finish.

M- Medium body with good carbonation

D- Overall it was a nice ipa. Im not a big fan of overpowering grapefruit flavors in DIPA and this one had it. So its not my cup of tea but many of you will prob like it.

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Photo of robwestcott
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

batch 9901, bottled 8/2010 - so this DIPA is about five months old, right up the alley of a guy leaning more toward the malt than the hops.

poured cold from the bottle a light copper to a sun king shaped pint glass with a wisp of a short lasting off white head with just a bit of retention.

subtle aroma of earthy and flowery hops with a sweet malt closely following up.

sweet toffee malts right up beside subtle earthy hops fading to a very mild bitter to the sides of the tongue. somewhat difficult to draw the individual flavors out, impresses me as more of a well balanced blend at this point. will be making it a point to sample fresh this summer.

big bodied, smooth, sweet, mild bitters, a bit hot.

drinkable - nah, not so much.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy of 2BDChicago. 10588 PKGD 8/12/11 indicated on the back label. Served in a tulip at 51 degrees. Pours a brownish-orange hue with a mostly translucent clarity; just a slight haze. Head is a quarter inch, frothy and off-white and eventually settles into a broken slick and a bubbly band around the shoulders. Thick, cascading bands of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Nose primarily expresses light toasted malts, a suggestion of ethanol and a piny/citrusy/earthy character; however, there's also a trace of tropical fruit in the foreground. Taste reveals an earthy/piny bitterness, as well as caramel and a buttery character along a malty backbone. That said, the considerable alcohol presence makes it difficult to parse out the nuances of the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a slightly oily consistency and a prickly carbonation. There's also a light acidity and some residual alcohol heat. Overall, I think this beer could use a little more time in the cellar. Alcohol is a bit too over the top and really muddles the flavors. It's not bad, but I prefer a little more balance and sweetness in my DIPAs.

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Photo of Macky20
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 9/12/10... batch 9901. Yeah, I've taken quite awhile to get my tasting notes on here. Got this beauty as an extra from Glazeman, thanks Scott!

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a DFH pint glass. Half inch of think head that leaves minimal lacing on the glass. Aroma is full of hop body and a very pleasant pineapple smell

Alcohol is the first thing thats prominent in the taste, but there's huge hops too. The pineapple does come through along with a nice grapefruit bite as well, ending with a bready raisin. There is something like a nutmeg hint toward the end as well which is nice.
Unfortunately the most dominant taste is alcohol....

Mouthfeel is ok, but I was surprised that it was as thin as it was for the huge body that this beer had. This is a sipper, there's no chance of having 2 of these back to back. Enjoyable and somewhat good experience all together, but it is a very slow drinker. Not sure that I would grab anymore if I had a good selection in front of me, but I enjoyed trying this one.

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Photo of smm
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle picked up while on a trip through Michigan to Isle Royale.

Color is a hearty orangish-red, very cloudy.

Fruity smell with a touch of citrus.

Initial reaction is that it feels quite heavy but on second sip goes feels a little smoother.

Has the floral taste similar to other Bells IPA's. The bitterness stands out higher than sweetness I've come to expect from a IIPA. It also stays with you and hits you in the back of the throat.

Quite drinkable for a IIPA as well.

Overall not my favorite... I'll wait for the HopSlam.

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Photo of kylehayworth
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I should be thankfull I even got to try this, apparently very limited in the Indy area.

A: Dark burnt orange in color, with a few light reddish orange highlights. The head is moderate with dancing carbonation under it.

S: It has a good hop smell, orange tangerine piney hops with a backdrop of sweetness. The sweetness smells of honey/honeysuckle.

T: Starts off sublimey sweet and malty, then turns hoppy/bitter. The hop profile seems somewhat underwhelmed from the malty profile and alcohol tinge.

M/D: The texture was very nice. It was very creamy and full. This is a good brew but not what I thought given the difficulty to obtain as well as the price.

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Photo of vtfan77
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was a bit surprised to see this at the local Total Wine, as I had apparently missed it at the other beer stores I frequent. I grabbed what appeared to be the last two bottles.

A- Clear golden orange with about a half inch of head. The head goes down fairly quickly and a ring of lace persists for the duration of the beer's life.

S- Quite sweet; citrusy hops melding with caramelly malts. A cotton candy/ marzipan-like sweetness rides under the hops.

T- Not as sweet as the smell would suggest. The hops take over with a piney, earthy character. The malt backs the hops up, but doesn't really assert itself except to add a bit of sweetness. Alcohol comes through pretty strongly on the finish, along with a moderate bitterness.

M- Rather thick and almost a little syrupy. The carbonation is decent and does its part to balance the mouthfeel out.

D- Not too bad for the style, but the alcohol and the thick mouthfeel hamper it a bit. I might have another, but one is probably plenty for a sitting.

Not a bad DIPA, but not amazing either. Perhaps I'm getting it a bit past its prime. The hops aren't particularly vibrant, and I have a feeling that they might have been much stronger a couple weeks ago. At any rate, a nice DIPA, although I definitely prefer hopslam.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.71/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Deep golden to amber in color with a bit of haziness. A fingernail of white foam rests on top. Brussels lacing. Nice,inviting citrus and tropical hop profile. There is a deep bitter flavor with abundant citrus hops and some tropical hop notes. The citrus notes are very heavy and leave little room for light malt backbone. This is an assault on your tastebuds. The mouth is a bit sticky and chewy,but considering the strength it is actually pretty easy going.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.71/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (2011)

Thanks for sharing Kgristoff!
Thanks for sharing NoSignsOfPain!

A deep, dark, auburn with orange edges. Thick, soapy off-white head forms and sticks around. Lots of lacing down the glass. A beautiful beer.

A very pleasing and pungent tropical and citrus nose. While the typical grapefruit and orange notes are here, there's a distinct apricot aroma as well. A mild aroma of grass and a touch of alcohol warmth round out the nose.

A very bitter DIPA with strong floral and pungent citrus notes. Clean finish with just a touch of alcohol warmth that reminds me of this beer's strength.

Medium to thick bodied, a touch slick with alcohol, ample carbonation.

A very bitter, very hop-forward DIPA.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 719 ratings.