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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 719 | Hads: 2,447
Photo of Juan611
3.38/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Got this bad boy as an extra from in person trade. Have to say I was stoked. Being from SoCal, I have to say my taste is jaded. I love that piney, resin bite on the tongue but the strong malt presence is a bit of a let down. Pretty decent DIPA though.

 251 characters

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.38/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I dedicate this review, and all future Bell's reviews, to super-tasters from Kalamazoo and beyond.

A - It pours an ultra-deep hue of amber and has a large frothy caramel colored head.

S - It smells of alcohol, grassiness, vegetal, and perhaps catty and/or onion-y.

T - The bitterness is sufficient to overwhelm a significantly big maltiness. It seems mostly astringent and somewhat piney, as far as flavor goes. Not fantastic due to a lack of dynamic hop impression.

M - Big and sticky.

D - I don't care for this big crass beast of a beer. It is not terrible by any means, but it doesn't do it for me in any way either.

 624 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
3.39/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Cyclone8 for this one! Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into an Upland pint glass.

A: Pours quite hazy, bronze-ish gold, with a half-finger of white head and an average amount of small bubble visible carbonation.

S: Pine, caramel and biscuit malt sweetness, and bitter citrus. Not a huge aroma for a DIPA.

T: Caramel malts, a lot of bitterness, some pine and the bitterest of citrus rind hops, and quite a bit of boozy alcohol. As it warms, the booze and bitterness increases up front, then fades into some malt with caramel sweetness.

M: Medium body with quite a bit of carbonation sensation. The alcohol it quite noticeable, but nothing like DFH 120 Minutes.

O: This embodies a lot of the characteristics I don't like in a DIPA. Big alcohol flavor, caramel, and bitterness without the underlying hop flavors to keep me interested. While not a drain-pour, this isn't anything that I'll go back to.

 927 characters

3.4/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up this brew at a bottle shop in DC. It was in Dupont Circle with my cousin. Good times.

A: Hazy burnt/dark shade of orange. Decent white head with lots of oil stickiness lacing the glass. Looks good.

S: sweet and fruity grapefruit nose with a mild pine grass quality in the background.

T: hot... very powerful IPA. got a lot of booze burn right away. Not smooth. Starts nice with some sweet citrus flavors, then a significant dry grasslike finish with a good dose of burn. There is some sweet malt character in here too, right in the middle. Overall its really not smooth and has a harsh finish. Too sharp. Needs to be more balanced. The finish is all dry hop flavors and alcohol. It sits for a while soaking up your saliva.

M: full oil like with a super dry booze finish. very dry on the end.
feels smooth at first, then finishes very very dry.

O: Just not feeling this one, I guess if your shooting for a more abrasive dry big american IPA style then it would be understandable. But this is just does not have the complexity, balance, and mouth-feel that I think great DIPA's has. Its not really bad, just not enough balance for me. Maybe its just me.

 1,169 characters

Photo of hopsbreath
3.41/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Twelve ounce bottle poured into a snifter at 8 o'clock in the morning after working all night at the hospital. Big thanks goes out to Thorpe429 for including one of Larry Bell's hoppiest as an extra!

After a moderately hard pour, about a finger and a half of ivory head formed atop the orange-gold anti-freeze tinged body. The head recedes quickly and no cap is left. Minimal lacing shows up as well.

Very sweet smell contains lychee candy, passion fruit, and pineapple.

Of course the tendency is to compare this to Hopslam, and through the power of suggestion, it is similar. The obvious difference between the two comes out here at the taste. Oracle isn't near as sweet and malty as Hopslam but is way more bitter and dank.

Mouthfeel is semi-thin for how big of a beer this calculates out to. It is however pretty oily due to then reckless use of hops.

How drinkable can a 10% DIPA palate destroying hop bomb be? It comes right down to "do I want another"? The answer is no. I'm glad I got the chance to try it, but won't be seeking it out again. Give this a try if the chance presents itself but don't go out of your way to track it down. Track down Hopslam instead come early next year.

 1,199 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.42/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy orange, with a finger of light white head that laces well. Hop haze and alcohol feet are evident. The aroma is a good one, with predominant citrus and slight bitterness, with a nice malty, caramel aroma. But the taste is lacking...balance. The flavors do not flow well, but are more jagged and spiking. Very bitter, and lingering, but the linger leaves a bad taste. The citrus is nice, but the alcohol chimes in with an unpleasant burst. As it warms it becomes more palatable, but the lingering aftertaste is still not very enjoyable. The feel is nice and smooth, slightly creamy, and on the upper end of light. Carbonation is nice. Drinkability is decent, and while tasty in areas, the balance is just not there for me to drink multiples. If the ABV was a bit less, or wasn't as noticeable, I think that would make a big difference.

 844 characters

Photo of chicano4craft
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper witha slight amber highlight in my tulip. Thick three finger head that sticks around for a long time. Amazing lacing to the end.

The nose is really balanced. It's a sweet citrus from the hops and malt. Reminds me of lemon bread.

The first sip is quite bitter. The balance in the nose doesn't show up. It's not the "good" bitter flavors you might expect from hops...grapefruit,citrus,resin. I think the alcohal has dulled down the flavor. A little disappointing.

The mouthfeel is decent but the high ABV brings down the drinkability. This was just an okay IIPA. I was hoping for a little more. I have a few more bottles and will revisit this soon. I feel my taste buds have been off a little lately.

 722 characters

Photo of codewarrior
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz from a trade into a Chalice (Bottle says 9901)

Picked this up in a trade with 7ways. Utterly disappointing (he warned me ...).

A: Deep amber. A finger or so of head, dissipates quickly, little to no lacing.

S: Hoppy and sweet. But more sweet than hoppy. Lots of fruits in this. Unexpected for a DIPA.

T: Sweet up front, in the severe, then massive hops in the back. Pineapple notes, and caramel in the middle. Lingering bitterness.

F: Creamy, heavier than expected.

D: Ok. Disappointing from Bell's, especially for a style from which I expect so much.

 562 characters

Photo of VTR
3.47/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I opened the bottle and started to pour. Before I could even see the beer in the glass the pine, grapefruit, resin notes all this my nose. Surely this can be a good sign because I enjoyed the scent while not being a huge IPA fan. First sip was a little harsh from maybe the alcohol or maybe the huge amount of hops, I don't know but it did get better on the second sip opening up with the pine and grapefruit. I read in one of the views below something to the effect of this is what hopslam wishes it was. Well I love Hopslam but found this hard to finish. The bitterness and to me lack of a big malt backbone made it somewhat not enjoyable. A few beers later the bitter taste was still lingering in my mouth. Some people will enjoy this IIPA but it was not for me.

 773 characters

Photo of Hoppity1
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one is a miss in my book. I love most Bells beer that I've had. This looked very good, smelled ok but the taste was a major letdown. All I got was piney bitter with hardly any change in the aftertaste. I like bitter, but I want it to go somewhere else from the initial taste through the aftertaste, and it didn't. It reminded me of 1492, the only TG beer that I didn't like.

 384 characters

Photo of claspada
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 8/12/11. Pours a nice clear deep amber/copper color with adequate soapy/bubbly eggshell head lacing nice sticky lacing.

Aromas are really pleasant but quite typical for the style. Lots of sticky pine and grapefruit resiny hops. Also getting some nice floral, earthy, vegetile hops as well; smells like Simcoe was used here in combination with Centennial hops. There is a nice sweet bready malt backbone with hints of caramel, almost toffee maltiness. Very east coast/mid-country DIPA. Alcohol becomes apparent as it warms to room temperature.

The tastes begin initially with a little sweet bready and light caramel maltiness but they are immediately overpowered by the pungent grapefruit, blood orange and resiny pine hops. As you further sample you get the earthy and floral, almost oniony hops flavors. Alcohol once again becomes apparent as it warms to room temperature.

The mouthfeel is quite full bodied with adequate carbonation for the style. The finish is sticky and resiny and the grapefruit and pine bitterness lingers on the palate, alcohol is also drying on the palate which invites you to sample more, which is dangerous when you have such a big ABV beer.

Overall this is a decent example of the style but not my favorite by a long shot. Too much in the grapefruit and pine hop department and not enough of the sweeter citrus or tropical fruit flavors. I could and would not want more than 1 or 2 of these in a sitting because of the apparent alcohol flavors that emerge and the rather generic intense hop bitterness and flavor profile. Worth a go if you can buy it by the single but a 6 pack is not for me.

 1,633 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Although I had a bit of this one at a recent tasting, I believe that I forgot to review it. Having recently received a bottle as an extra in a trade, I figured the time was right.

First off, this doesn't remind me of a DIPA (at least in the West Coast sense of things with which I have grown accustomed), but rather an IPA with a bit too much sweetness.

Golden amber color with a decent white head. Big bubblegummy hops seem to dominate, then sweetness, before reaching a somewhat bitter finish. Not bad by any means, but Bell's has done better.

 547 characters

Photo of rhinos00
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to pecorasc for sharing this one. Poured into a wine glass. Bottled 08.29.09.

A- Pours a very dull amber. Semi-clear with a fingers width of white head...had a very soapy appearance. Some lacing as consumed.

S- Mix of citrus and tropical fruit with a sweet malt backbone. Decent amount of alcohol in there as well.

T- The high level of bitterness and alcohol really masked the nuances of this beer. Upfront bittering hop oil numb the palate. Following is mixture of sweet malts and mango, pineapples, oranges. Finished with a piney bitterness and a hefty amount alcohol.

M- Light to medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Some sticky residue was left on the palate.

D- This was only 10% abv? Felt more like 13% or so. Heavy hitter that was a little hard to put down because of the high bitterness and alcohol.

Overall, I know this isn't fresh, but even so, I think Bell's missed the mark with this one. I'm honestly quite surprised with the positive reviews...especially the most recent ones as those probably had a bit of age on them as well. I'll stick to Hopslam instead. This is just way too big of beer to be enjoyed.

 1,149 characters

Photo of WesMantooth
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

Deep yellow pour with a huge white head that holds on for a long time. Hoppy - citrus aroma. Taste is grapefruit style citrus with a ton of hops and bitterness from the beginning till the end. Almost like a non coated pill that gets stuck on your tongue. A bunch of pine too. Very slick resiny feel to it. I know my rdev is going to be way off on this an I am in the minority, but for a DIPA, I find this to be very unbalanced and not real enjoyable. As an American IPA, it I would score differently. If you like an IBU slap to the face then go for it for sure. Bell's makes some great beers. They have always been hit or miss with me though. This one is a miss personally.

 673 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had an orange color and a slightly hazy texture. There was an inch and a half, foamy, fairly long-lasting head.

S: A pretty good aroma of hops, pine, and some malt, but mostly hops.

T: Like the smell, the taste had a big hops presence, but also some caramel, pine, and malt. Not a bad flavor, but the hops content is a bit overwhelming, leaving a powerful bitterness. Could have been taken down a notch.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a very bitter finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is an uneven beer, mainly due to the flavor. Not bad, but could have been better.

 609 characters

Photo of KFBR392
3.52/5  rDev -15.8%

Appearance: pours with a glowing golden orange color. Finger worth of frothy white head. Active carbonation is a touch above average for the style but very fitting. Sticky rings of lacing left behind with each drink.

Smell: pine and oily hops jump out right away. Heavy saturated citrus with notes of grapefruit, tangerines, and ripe oranges. A potent malt backbone packs a semi-sweet punch of caramel and sour dough bread. Bitter hops give a welcome bite on the back end. Resinous pine and hop oils carry throughout and are felt on the finish.

Taste: Sweet malts and touches of booze immediately warm the palate. Potent saturated citrus quickly follows on the front. Joining force and evening out the potent hops is malts notes of bread, toffee, and molasses. Bright oily hops and some herbal pine notes bright this beer full circle.

Mouthfeel: Lots of hop oils. Bitterness and sweet malts play well off one another.

Overall: Lots of similar characteristics to Hopslam. Tasty but nothing I would really go out of my way for. So many DIPAs these days, this one is another face in the crowd.

 1,117 characters

Photo of breadwinner
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Yowza, that's some straight up aspirin bitterness right there. I sometimes plead for drier IPAs that don't drown in boozy sweetness, but this has gone in another direction entirely. Decent nose, decent look, but that bitterness is a tough pill to swallow.

 255 characters

Photo of tobelerone
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%

12oz bottle into pint glass. This beer was bottled 12 days prior to drinking.

Very slightly clouded dark gold body. Excuse my saying so but the color and clarity put me in mind of urine when one is dehydrated. And now we resume the review.

Impressive off-white head that has great retention. Lacing is quite sticky.

I'm surprised at how mild the aroma is. I get some caramel and breadiness from the malt, floral and almost soapy aromas from the hops. Barely perceptible hint of alcohol.

Interesting flavor. There is a high degree of bitterness, definite aspirin quality here, as well as a soapy note - I didn't just imagine that from the aroma. Alcohol is again present but subtle. Very resinous, plus lots of grapefruit pith and rind. I'm surprised at how dry this is; there is a near total lack of balancing sweetness, the malt character is obliterated by alpha acids, and one is left with a long lasting aftertaste that could be duplicated simply by dissolving an advil on the tongue. By the time one reaches the end of the glass and things have warmed up a bit, there is a very subtle emergence of the malt, bringing a faintly honeyed note, but it's too little, too late and fails to truly salvage the experience.

Medium to slightly full body and medium-lowish carbonation.

I don't know, I much prefer Hopslam, and I don't even like that beer all that much. It's kind of the polar opposite of this, within the DIPA style. This, for me, isn't a very enjoyable beer to drink - it's just not DELICIOUS, and I don't want to drink beer that isn't delicious anymore. I love hoppy beer but the bar has been set a lot higher in recent years and the Oracle doesn't come up to it for me. There are brewers crafting high ABV DIPAs that have explosive hop flavors packed with appealing notes while bitterness is mitigated somewhat. A beer like that doesn't need a pronounced malt character because the hops are handled so artfully and can be left to shine. In this case, the malt backbone is sorely missed, and everything feels out of whack and a little...dated?

 2,063 characters

Photo of mrfrancis
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear, deep golden orange with a tight, creamy white head.

S: Aromas of pine, citrus, biscuits, brown sugar, and alcohol are present on the nose. This smells a little boozier than I would like.

T: Notes of brown sugar, biscuits, sage, pine, mint, bitter orange, kumquat, lemon, and grapefruit assault the palate. The finish is bitter and fruity with lemon, grapefruit, bitter orange, and alcohol notes.

M: Full-bodied and sticky. Carbonation is firm and prickly. There is a slight alcohol presence in the mouth, but it isn't too overbearing.

O: As is, this is a very solid American DIPA, but if the alcohol presence were masked a bit better, it would be truly outstanding.

 687 characters

Photo of pagriley
3.53/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz, 4 weeks old, into a tulip

L - Pale hazy orange with a half inch head that dissipates into heavy lacing
S - a touch of citrus and pine, but not a lot going on
T - Subtle malt sweetness followed by a thump of harsh bitterness
M - medium to full bodied for a DIPA. Soft carb and smooth mouthfeel

Can't get over the lack of balance on this - I know it is supposed to be a big hard DIPA, but somehow the floral / fruity / pine characteristics have been stripped away to just leave a harsh bitterness right in your face. An interesting experiment certainly, but a jarring beer to drink

 590 characters

Photo of TheBrewo
3.55/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

We crack a pair, pouring a brew of golden pumpkin orange into our Founders snifters, throwing faint amber hues when it catches a ray just right. It produces a quickly building three finger head of soapy tan colored bubbles, showing excellent retention. This creamy and goopy crown slowly bubbles away, leaving thick sheets of honeycomb lacing all around our glasses. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be on the lighter side of moderate. The aroma is both richly malty and sticky with hops, giving notes of sweet pale, lightly caramel, and rye maltiness, spiciness of booze, dried cucumber skin, and fresh ferns, and big hoppiness of nectary, lightly citric, and piney varietals. Complexity works in with warmth, riding on sweet vanilla extract, rubber tree, lactic warmth, lime juice, passion fruit, black pepper and far-off gingerbread breadiness, tannic leafy teas, soft bubblegum, perfumed florals, and sugary sweet hits of citric hop goodness. Our first impression is that the hops are quite bitter, mixing with the fusel nature of the booze for an explosively surprising beginning. As we sip, the taste opens with black pepper, lemon zest, metallic amber and pale malts, chemical rubber bite, bitterly herbal and sweetly nectary hops, sap resins, hints of honey sweetness, and sweet fusel alcohol. The middle peaks with red cherry sweetness, hibiscus and honeysuckle florals, whole black peppercorn, sesame seed, chalked yeast, freshly picked parsley, citric and herbal hops, light caramel sugars, and a bittered, steely rye type of maltiness. The end hits with cleaner pales, warm cornbread, drippy butters, vodka booze, plant greens, biting tree bark, mineral water, citric, grassy, and herbal hops, mango fruitiness, gravel, aluminum, eucalyptus, grape seeds, coconut husk, and water chestnuts. The aftertaste breathes of hugely fusel booze, piney hop resins, distant raisin sugars, pencil shavings, gravel, dirty yeast, black pepper, pseudo-woody astringency, black raspberry seediness, wet moss, nickel, and echoes of those bitter herbal hops. The body is full, and the carbonation is medium but subdued. Each sip gives nice cream and froth, decent slurp and smack, and clean finishing pop. The mouth is initially coated fully, but this quickly drips into intense boozy pucker and tannic astringency. The abv is up there for a 12oz. bottle, and it drinks as such.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was its nose. Really, all the aromatic goodness presented here came with warmth. It started a bit hot and overly malty, much like the flavoring, but it took a turn with warmth, where the hops were allowed to flourish into their natural, sticky, floral, and piney state. This gave a sweet air to it, helping to contrast nicely with the grain and the fusel booziness. We found the taste, however, to be a bit cumbersome. Here we found extreme hotness of ethanol, overly bittered hops, and biting, metallic yeast, mixing for a rather heavy puck and chalked astringent on the feel. This was not helped by the fact that the body was sturdy and thick, adding to the burden of drinking it. Perhaps it was the hype that killed this one for us, but unfortunately we found The Oracle to be overly boozed, deceptively unbalanced, and more of a chore than an absolute pleasure.

 3,310 characters

Photo of Verecund
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9901, bottled on 08.23.2010. Consumed on 10.14.2010.

Mango Tango (TM) with a lightly peach colored head. Thick, persistent head.

Nice tropical fruit, orange, and grapefruit presence in the nose, but it's a bit muted. It's as if, library-ridden, the hops have been told to be quiet by the sugary, biscuit malty backbone. I prefer some balance to my [I]IPAs, but I think this would be better fresher, with a pit more tropical-punch punch.

Dank herbal and floral hop bitterness hits the tongue, but is cut through by the light tropical notes (much less here than in the nose). The hop profile is a bit muddled, in my opinion, but that could be due to a) the age and b) the biscuity, grainy malt presence that's higher than the average DIPA. Some minor pepper on the finish.

Somewhat slick and oily. Fairly creamy until the end of the palate.

Not a palate destroyer, but it is as if someone took a plastic axe to my tongue after awhile, which just dulls the flavor more. A somewhat-fruity, somewhat-earthy/dank plastic axe.

 1,033 characters

Photo of jooler
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Initial smell is of cigarettes and initial taste is sweet but extremely alcoholic. It is a good balance of hops an malts but the alcoholic boozy taste ruins it for me

 166 characters

Photo of zoolzoo
3.57/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Deep shade of amber, golden accents. White head, gobs of sticky lacing. Looks quite a bit like a DIPA.

S: Mostly grains and a little alcohol. Fruity and piney hop notes linger below.

T: Hop profile is grassy and mostly piney, lacking citric brightness. Sugar coated everything, malts and grains are quite prominent. Alcohol presence is almost completly masked, impressive for an IPA tipping 10%.

M: Thick and chewy, fits the flavor profile well.

D: Not bad but abv and sweetness limits drinkability. Not my style of DIPA I suppose.

 538 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter at Beer Bistro North.

Finally getting to lay my tastebuds on this elusive DIPA. It pours a clear brass topped by a finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises grapefruit zest, pine needles, honey, and sickly-sweet caramel. The taste pretty much brings in more of the same, but now everything is more powerful: The grapefruit is heavier, the pine is sharper, the caramel is sweeter. It's all a bit much, especially when the sweetness and the pine mix together to form a mild menthol kind of character in the finish. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a thick feel. Overall, a solid DIPA, but one that seems to be too big for its own britches. I'd drink another, if only to figure out where the fanfare for this beer comes from, especially when a slightly more refined version can be more easily obtained (at least, in these parts) in the form of HopSlam.

 914 characters

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