The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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The OracleThe Oracle
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first and foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt and balance.

The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-04-2009

BEER STATS
Reviews:
771
Ratings:
2,659
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
19.66%
 
 
Wants:
453
Gots:
406
For Trade:
10
User Reviews
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Reviews: 771 | Ratings: 2,659
Photo of mozif
1.41/5  rDev -66.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

One of the most disgusting beers I've ever had. I gave this a second chance this year and it's a harsh many bomb. No hoppy flavors just a strong disgusting beer. Drain poor. Bell's is better than this....

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Photo of dedrinker
2.4/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Medium amber color with off-white head. Bottle gushed, but poured smooth and head almost gone.

Aromas first of alcohol, then sweet malt, then as the fumes dissipated, tropical/ floral hop aromas. Now a mix of tropical fruity hops and alcohol.

Alcohol is first flavor supported by hop bitterness. Surprisingly ungraceful, and unbalanced. Some sweet malt flavor conspires with sweetness of alcohol to achieve a chemical burning sensation.

Medium body with alcohol finish and hop bitterness.

I'm glad I did not pay 20 dollars for this six pack. Bell's is bleeding the pockets of foolish beer geeks on this one. Ironically, thanks to various beer writers, and legions of rookie followers, this is what the much ballyhooed "extreme" segment of craft beer is turning into - overpriced beer with unbalanced harsh flavors. Congrats - we wanted to be fancy and respectable like wine, and now we have an over-rated Napa Cabernet scene of our own.

Really, thanks beer geeks for throwing tons of cash at any fool who crosses the 9%abv mark, or uses a wild yeast or barrel aging. Thanks a lot.

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Photo of billshmeinke
2.44/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a nonic.

Just over a a quarter inch of head. Sits atop a golden amber body that is slightly hazy and has evidence of lively carbonation. Dies down to a solid bubbly cap of foam on top. Retention is pretty awesome, and lacing is great as well.

Smells of some honey malts, fruity esters, citrus, and grapefruit. Also a hint of alcohol.

Lots of honey, a touch of bread, some resin, and citrus. Long lasting resin bitterness. Definitely an east coast interpretation of a dipa.

Mouthfeel has low carbonation, resiny bitterness and a good amount of hop oils. Would definitely like more carbonation in this one.

Alcohol wasn't well hidden, not enough carbonation, and not enough hop flavor. Not too good in my opinion.

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Photo of AleWatcher
2.48/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Got this from Mpbugeye in the Blind Beers BIF-- the beer was reviewed without any knowledge of brewery or style.

Blind beer says Tulip on the wrapping...

Pours a clear, orange-tinted gold color. Slight amber hue. One finger head-- lasted about 3 sips before a tiny ring of bubbles was all that was left. Minimal lacing.

The nose screams IPA-- very little malt, and surprisingly not as much hops as I would normally hope for (my most recent IPA was a growler of Columbus IPA), and this is certainly no where near as hoppy. There is a distinct alcohol bite in the nose. Really boozy, like grain alcohol.

The taste has very little malt or sweetness. A citrus a spicy hop hits with a sticky, oily dryness that lingers with both bitternes and alcohol.

The nail polish remover/acetone note is too much for this beer to be truly be something I want. I think this might be past the point at which I normally enjoy my IPAs... But I am unsure.

-- reveals bottle to be Bell's Oracle---

Hmmm... I think I really nailed the review on this one. Not an awful beer-- but not up to Bell's high standards. Gimme some HopSlam!

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Photo of TheDudeRules
2.48/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured into my Founders snifter.

Bottle date is 08/11/2011.

Pours a fairly dark honey color. One full finger of off white head. Damn good retention. Lacing remains.

Smell. Citrus. Semi sweet. Alcohol. Lots of it. A two trick pony to my nose.

And for my least favorite part. The taste. Slight citrus up front. An incredibly strong malt backbone, that gets rather bitter. Chewy caramel gross garbage malt. Strong grain alcohol. Off putting is the understatement of my life. After that lack luster bitter sting on the finish of the sip the aftertaste sets in. Only way I can describe it is crushed aspirin. And it persists for minutes that seems like days.

What a truly awful beer. With some coaching from my wife I managed to finish my glass. These are going straight to extras. Sorry potential traders. How the hell this beer scored an A- is a modern marvel.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
2.49/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Filtered watered down orange juice to me peepers. Oily legs stand atop some bubbly suds that sit along the outer edges. I'm a sucker for a nice orange colored IPA.

Somewhat of an effort to pull much of a smell from what I anticipated to be quite a delicious smelling beer. Soapy orange, touch of pine, and a boozy quality that isn't quite anticipatory. Surprised at the lack of depth and complexity, especially considering this should be fresh.

Wow...is this hot...and not in a good way. This tastes like vodka with a faint twist of citrus. The herbal bitterness that follows overwhelms the back end of leaves nearly no sense of any citric hop presence. I am at a loss here.

Oily and nearly flat due to the low carbonation and heavy body.

Drinkability? Don't talk about drinkability? Drinkability? For the price of this beer and the pedigree of Bell's Two Hearted and HopSlam, both delicious beers, this is a messy, messy, messy beer. Swing and a miss.

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Photo of Sabtos
2.71/5  rDev -35%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Light copper with a thin khaki ring.

Aromas of pungent, almost catty hops, with hot grapefruit pith, and a grainy malt background.

Taste is real hot and spicy hops and booze, yet softened by frothy grapefruit rind and zest, and pine.

Devil Dancer light, if that's possible thing.

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Photo of rand
2.8/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

12 oz bottle to tulip glass

Gorgeous copper-tan appearance, a big fluffy head never fully recedes and completely coats the glass with lacing.

Big, bold, sharp aromas. Notes of ripe citrus, orange rind and pine resin up against a giant malt backbone - sugary and grainy. All ushered by ample alcohol volatiles.

Aggressively hop-forward on the palate. Sharp, bitter, rough. After an onslaught of astringent hops, treacly malt syrup rolls in upon a vain attempt to balance. Lots of earthy tea-like residuals linger, along with hot booze. Finishes with a long close, and a coating of bitter residual between sips. The brew is a chore to drink.

A West Coast IPA this is not. Not even close. This is a hoppy barleywine, and not very good one at that. This confirms my suspicion of East Coast bias (or east of the West Coast bias) on this site - this beer has higher scores than a lot of local IPA's that blow this out of the water on every level.

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Photo of Sideswipe
2.8/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, dated 8/12/11, courtesy of Memyselfandi. Thanks Mike!

The Oracle pours a dark amber color with a finger of white head. The foam dissipates leaving sticky lacing and a thick coaster. The nose is citrus hops and caramel malt. Taste mirrors the nose with big orange and grapefruit up front. Hoppy bitterness is followed by a wave of sweet caramel malt. The hops never quite make a comeback and as a result the finish is sweet and boozy. Feel is thick and sticky with a low level of carbonation. Overall I found The Oracle to be a bit too malty, boozy and sweet. Almost in barleywine territory in my opinion. Glad I had the opportunity.

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Photo of RyanPoff
2.83/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up from Whole Foods.

A: A hazy apricot glow with about two fingers of off white head and excellent retention. Awesome.

S: Floral hops and quite a bit of sweetness/sugar. Almost like cotton candy or bubble gum. Could use a little more in your face hops at the front.

T: A lot of piney and citrus hops. A weird candy, gum taste with a weird astringency and sour aftertaste. i couldn't finish it.

M: Nothing was bad about it, but I hated the test.

I wouldn't buy this again. Maybe I got a bad bottle or something, but this just didn't do it for me at all.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.91/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.25

Not much head / carbonation on the pour. Aroma has lots of floral & citrus hops, with a little dry Mosaic undernote. This one is a bit too aggressive for me, there isn't any balance of flavors, just an overload of grapefruit / pine resin, with a piquant stab of fusel alchohol on the end. As IPAs have evolved over the past couple of years plenty of beers have shown there graceful ways to present that classic hop bitterness without assaulting the drinker. This beer has all the grace of an elephant on ice skates. If one-note "hop bombs" are your thing, drink away, but this one is a pass for me.

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Photo of Cresant
2.96/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a Sam Adams glass. Batch 9901. 12 oz. brown bottle. The body was deep golden body and had a creamy two fingers of yellowy head. Lightly hazy body topped with a film of head that stayed throughout.

The smell was fresh bread and oranges. Piney, even slightly cat piss like. Sweet and spicy. Grapefruit pith and marmalade. Alcohol was evident.

The taste was citrusy and had a long oily bitter finish. Alcohol was a bit too evident. I did not like this one at all the first time time I had it, but enjoyed it more the second time.

The mouthfeel was heavy to full. Slightly under-carbonated.

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Photo of 7ways
2.97/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a clear orange amber with a dish soap head. The color is pretty brilliant. No head retention, which kept it from being a 5.

The aroma is just as good. Big leafy oranges, sweet grass, mint, mellow malt in the background. This is the kind of aroma that brings back childhood memories.

And then the taste slams me back into the present. There's a sense of loss because it doesn't taste nearly as good as it smells. The orange has become bitter orange peels and sap. Fusel alcohol pretty much dominates. I think that with some age this will become a pretty good barleywine.

Oily, heavy, and undercarboated.

Hopslam is a 10% beer I can hang with. This is not.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
2.99/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Bottled 7/10/15

Look - Awesome honey color, hazed
Smell - Floral, herbal, malty, dank
Taste - Overly floral/herbal. A little dank. Crazy bitter and astringent. Almost hard to drink.
Feel - Slightly creamy. Sticky and dry

Overall - This beer was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe I got to it past it's prime. It was kept cool though and figured the 10%ABV would make it hold up a little longer. Who knows. This one was tough to finish. Not my cup of tea.

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Photo of claminat420
3.03/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- alil cloudy golden color. nice white two finger head with medium lacing.

S- hoppy and sweet

T- god i don't even know. alil malty, alil sweet, alil hoppy

M- sturdy medium body. good carbonation.

D- could drink one or two.

Overall- i'm not trying to be a d#ck here and just slam bell's but lookout!!! they put out a special...everyone jumps on it... nothing to special. to me founder's double trouble buried this in a heartbeat.

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Photo of zhanson88
3.08/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a very clear copper color with low carbonation. About 1/2" of slightly off-white head forms, which has good lacing and decent retention. 4

Smell: Lots of caramel malts on the nose, sweetness, citrus, and pine resin. A bit different than most DIPAs as far as balance goes, but decent.

Taste: Big caramel malts up front, followed by heavy pine resin. The combo is very sweet, even cloying. Following that is some citrus, with resinous bitterness on the finish. Maltiness is okay but not necessarily my preference in a DIPA, with sweetness that is too cloying.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is pretty good. Medium bodied, with low carbonation. Smooth drinking all in all. Overall, I thought this was an interesting take on a DIPA and even a nice change of pace. Not my favorite though.

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Photo of Jchavez111
3.12/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

The initial taste is everything you would expect from a boozy double IPA from Bells. It has a very satisfying bitterness and full-flavored kick at the beginning but what kills it for me is the aftertaste. The bitterness lingers for a much longer time than preferred. I wouldn't buy this beer again solely due to the ever-lasting aftertaste.

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Photo of denver10
3.15/5  rDev -24.5%

Pours gold with a white head. Aroma of some biscuit, honey and alcohol hit first, grapefruit, its rind, and pine follows. Flavor follows suit but with a mellow sweetness I did not detect from the aroma. As someone who is not a fan of alcohol showing itself in his hoppy beers, not excited at the heat display here. A crisp, creamy mouthfeel. Overall, the heat to this one really holds me back from being able to get too into this but it also wasn't enough to totally ruin it for me either. Not one I would revisit.

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Photo of chaz410
3.17/5  rDev -24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this bottle at Common Market.
Pours a beautiful orange tinted amber body with a half finger width white head.
Smells of grapefruit, pine and grassy hops with a very heavy caramel and toasted malt character.
Taste more like an imperial pale ale than an imperial IPA. It has a very smooth orange and caramel blend character with lots of hints of pine, pineapple, apple, and earthy hops.
Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth.
It is very easy to drink dispite the ABV and the syle

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.21/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a slightly murky copper color. The head is a finger high, and off-white in shade. Retention is excellent, and the head manages to leave behind thick webs of lacing.

Compared to a lot of new-school DIPAs running around these days, this beer's aroma is classically old-school. A hefty backbone of caramel, brown sugar, and toffee is not only backed by an assertive pine bitterness, but also by some fruity ale esters and a touch of alcohol. It's a throwback, but is that bad? Everything seems to come together nicely, and that's what counts.

Tasting it, the malt comes across heavily like a barleywine - as does the finishing bitterness. It starts with plenty of crystal malts, meaning lots of caramel and toffee appears. Piny, grassy hops slowly build near the back end. Quite a bit of alcohol comes through at first. For better or worse, it's a textbook old-school DIPA - it isn't as delicately balanced as the nose suggested, either.

Despite the fairly full, heavy feel, it finishes quite dry. There is a mild burn, however. Nonetheless, the drinkability is surprisingly good for 10% (aided by gently rolling carbonation)

Hrm. I definitely don't think it's worth it's exorbitant price or mild rarity, but it's a fine DIPA taken in a vacuum. However, there are many superior examples of the style available locally (to me), and that makes this hard to return to at the end of the day.

3.21/5: I've heard your wisdom plenty of times before, Mr. Oracle

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Photo of caskstrength
3.23/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Wherefore The Oracle??

First off, I know it's ultimately insignificant, but how stupid is the "DoubleIndiaPaleAle Ale" label.

anyway....

pours nice. enough head. DIPA appearances as expected.

Smell is pineapple. whoa. some orange, but mostly pineapple.

Tates are tropical hops. alcohol. decent balancing malts. A tropical fruit DIPA, but the bar has been set high for Bells here. And this is simply OK. Not much fresh, juicy zest. A bit thick. Flavors not bouncing around at all. Boozier than I wanted, didn't help the profile.

More carbonation and lighter mouthfeel would have helped.

An OK pineapple forward DIPA. But it's not as good as hopslam or 2hearted, and I don't see much reason for its existence. Not sure what Bells is doing here.

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Photo of Roguer
3.24/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Slightly hazy, just enough to keep it from transparency. Orange amber brew topped by a nice flat white head with decent retention, and very nice lacing.

Huge caramel malt and brown sugar aroma, with a slight hint of stale cardboard sneaking in. Bottled 48 days ago, so freshness really shouldn't be that big a factor.

Flavor follows: big, malty DIPA, with a huge emphasis on caramel (and pale) malts, a touch of brown sugar, straw, and grainy bread. Beer is hugely bitter with little in the way of hop flavor. Pine definitely stands out, and some non-specific citric acid. It doesn't really hit as stale; it hits as drily malty.

Mouthfeel is fine; beer is very lively, with little sting, and despite the very high ABV, there's only a tinge of heat on the very back-end.

I don't quite get the hype. It's impressively bitter, and some malt-forward DIPAs work out well, but this one doesn't have enough sweetness to carry that task.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.26/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: 12 fl oz. Brown glass. Appealing classy label art. Branded pry-off pressure cap.

Brewed 08/08/14 - well within Bell's 6 month timeframe. Expectations are high; this is currently #20 on the Top 50 Michigan list. 10% ABV. Served cold into a Jester King goblet. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated. Reviewed live as a DIPA per the label.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: One finger wide. White colour. Nice creaminess. Good frothiness. Nice thickness. Has an appealing smooth, even consistency and a soft complexion. Leaves light consistent lacing on the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Retention: average - about 2 minutes.

BODY: Murky orange-copper of average vibrance. Translucent and glowing. Nontransparent. Clean; no yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a nice looking imperial IPA but isn't unique or special.

AROMA: Fruity. Peach, apricot, ripened fruit, pale malts, floral hop character, more tropical pineapple hop character (a note I've never liked in beer), citrusy zest, and some tropical mango. Hints of grapefruit are present, but I don't get grapefruit's signature dominance or punch. Tangerine. A kiss of pine. Grassiness. Caramalts. Mild resinous character.

Overall, it's a fresh ripe fruity aroma with plenty of interesting hop character, but it could be juicier, and the tropical leanings have me worried...I usually prefer a more citrusy, piney, resinous hop character. Nevertheless, it's pleasant and inviting. Above average in strength, with no overt booziness. Critically, the hop bitterness seems well tamed by the pale malts. I hope the taste is as balanced as the aroma.

No yeast character or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Loads of hop character: floral hops, some pine, tangerine citrus and accompanying zest, mango, peach, boozy orange, and hints of grapefruit. To balance the bitterness from all those hops, it employs a bit too much caramalt, which makes it overly sweet and lends it a boozy undercurrent. The pale malt foundation gets lost in the mix. I do pick up on the dreaded pineapple hop note, unfortunately. I'd like a juicier more resinous and more citrusy hop emphasis, but this isn't bad.

While I do find it fundamentally imbalanced, I think it's decently built. Nice depth of flavour. Average flavour duration and intensity for the style. It boasts plenty of complexity, but it's not enough to truly compete the big dogs in the style. And there isn't much nuance or subtlety here; it commits to a lot of big flavours without regard for fine-tuning or intricacy.

MOUTHFEEL: Smooth, wet, creamy, soft enough, and fairly refreshing. But the booziness holds it back, and it does have a thick heavy feel on the palate, with a somewhat overbearing presence. Full-bodied. Coating.

Overall, the warmth of the mouthfeel coupled with the tropical fruit from the taste lends this brew a booze-soaked fruit vibe which isn't all that pleasant. This texture is a decent companion to the taste, but fails to elevate the beer.

Overcarbonated.

Not oily, gushed, hot, astringent, harsh, or rough.

OVERALL: It's too boozy to be all that drinkable, but I'll enjoy working my way through it. With a myriad of superior beers in the style available on shelves, I wouldn't pick up The Oracle again, but I'm glad I tried it once. Bell's own Hopslam is a much better (and even more balanced) brew, and this veers too far into tropical hop territory for my personal tastes. The boozy pineapple really turns me off to this, and the overdone caramalt sweetness is equally problematic.

Huge thanks to Duff27 for the bottle!

High C+

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Photo of Karnivool1
3.26/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Don't get the hype on this one. I don't find much balance on this one at all. Just a boozy hop bomb. Lingering bitterness at the end. It smells great, and looks good, but an overload of pine and grapefruit. Glad I got a single bottle only.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.26/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle thanks to Rusty Diamond, appreciate it! I split this with two friends and they both liked it and said it was good whereas I was disappointed. Nice orange color, smells liek a lot of hops alcohol and malt but very muddled. I almost wish I knew how old this beer was. The taste was like a very malty DIPA, I guess I was expecting something closer to Hopslam. Overall, I would take Hopslam over this beer every single time. In fact, I'm not sure why they felt the need to brew this since hopslam is so damn good.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.17 out of 5 based on 2,659 ratings.
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