The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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The OracleThe Oracle

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

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

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Reviews: 786 | Ratings: 2,714
Photo of EMV
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip.

L: Pours a cloudy dark golden copper color... cloudy with two fingers of white foamy head. Great lacing.

S: Hops! Bitter and dank... pine and pineapple... a bit of citrus.

T/F: Rich and full bodied... lots of bready malt character with a bitter palate wrecking hop punch. Lots of evergreens and citrus. Peppercorns and grapefruit. A bit of pineapple mixed in. Finish is dry and sticky.

O: A fantastic DIPA from Bell's. Very intense and bitter hops... but rich and full at the same time. Great all around brew.

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Photo of billab914
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Infestaxion for this one.

Poured somewhat hazy amber color into my tulip glass. Poured with a nice foamy white head that laced very nicely down the glass. Smell is dominated by the hops, a lot of citrus coming through. Good tasting DIPA, a lot of bitterness with some piney hops flavors and some alcohol coming through as well as a strong malt profile. Very happy I got to try this one, probably not the best DIPA I've ever had but very good none the less.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The pour was amber in color, with hazy body, and a good sized, two finger thick head. The aroma was very potent, even at an arm's length. Upon bringing the glass to the nose, I could smell lots of grapefruit, pineapple, and melon. There was also some hay in addition to the tropical fruits. The first sip was was quite bit more bitter than I was expecting, proving flavors of grapefruit pith, bitter orange, and pine. There was a good deal of malt sweetness, and alcohol lurking behind the hop assault. This was a thick, chewy DIPA, providing a hefty mouthfeel. Definitely a DIPA made for sipping.

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

golden orange appearance, dense white head. good retention and lacing. floral aromas as well as grass, pine, caramel. palate is orange, grapefruit, spicy floral note, caramel malts, pine. solid feel.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Medium golden amber to lighter orange hazy tint. Superior 2 finger, foam like head that last 5+minutes and contributes good lacing.

S: Very enticing blend of sour and sweet. Lots of tropical fruit. Guava pound cake, pineapple, orange. Some earthy and mildew musk.

M: Fuller bodied, quite dry, medium carbonation. Warming alcohol

T: Pine needles, caramel, bready malt, grapefruit, citrus pith. Good bitter punch, mostly herbal. Brandy-like alcohol components, fully fermented apricots and pear

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Photo of WastingFreetime
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears as a translucent orange-bronze with a silky-looking two finger head that recedes to a semi-permanent quarter-finger tiny bubbled foam cap (you'd swear it came from a nitro tap even though I poured it from a bottle) which leaves glorious levels of lacing behind with every sip...truly magical in appearance, the oracle is.

Intense scents of grapefruit peel, pineapple, notes of mango, tangerine, strong pine needles with a side of resin and a medium strength note of sweet caramelized onion on the side. Florals and grass chords are there as well, but they are much more difficult to pick up unless you let the beer warm up some towards room temp.

I can taste a short bit of caramel malt and than everything I mentioned in the nose comes at me all at once. This beer is definitely keyed towards hop heads. Overall it tastes a lot like a Devil Dancer only with the amount of Simcoe "onion-ey-ness" cut about in half, which can make it a more approachable hop-bomb for those who don't care as much for Simcoe as others.

Texture is medium-thick and rather quite nicely smooth. Not as dry as you would think a 10% ABV would be..well done.

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Photo of oberon
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Now part of the bottle selection at the Mellow Mushroom in Greensboro.Poured into a standard pint glass a hazed deep burnt orange with a tight formed,well defined one finger white head that held well.A blast of grapefruit and tangerine aromas lets you know this is some seriuos hop juice comin at ya,a tinge of sweet caramel and alcohol comes into play as well.The mouthfeel is coating but not overly thick,just lush and somewhat oily.Serious hop juice on the palate,huge grapefruit,tangerines,and candied orange flavors,with a little pine resin,but the hop flavors are dominated by the citric hop qualities.Some sweetness imparted from the alcohol and a little caramel,are there as well.This is a bad ass DIPA here,true to what it should be in my mind,not overly sweet and HUGE hops!

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Photo of Brent
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's nailed this one on the head for the style. Somewhat sugary malt awash in an onslaught of forceful hops bittering, a note of cotton-candy ringing through the hops roar. Bitterness coats the tongue and holds on with tenacity, finally fading with a surprisingly clean finish. The beer manages to balance, teeteringly, on the knife-edge between full-on DIPA hopping and over-the-top overkill.

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Photo of grub
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

OHLRangers hooked me up with this one in Secret Santa '09. thanks ed!

12oz bottle. sampled feb 12/2010.

pours crystal clear deep dark orange, not quite red, with a small dense cream coloured head. the head drops quickly and leaves spotty lace as it falls.

aroma is great. bright orange and tangerine, big and juicy. caramel. grapefruit and pine. light alcohol. slightly powdery. white bread and cracker. bit of biscuit.

taste is great. grapefruit and a bit of pine. big orange and tangerine, but a little less juicy than in the aroma. slightly boozy alcohol. caramel. bit of toffee. lightly toasted white bread. cracker. hint of biscuit. medium-high bitterness level. as it warms, the sweetness and malty character comes out a little more, lending it a little more of a barleywine character. i also start to pick up a bit of a spicy/peppery aspect too.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body, but with a fairly drying finish from the hops. medium-low very fine carbonation.

drinkability is great. you get flashes of boozy alcohol, but the assertive bitterness balances it out pretty well, and as it warms the body fills out and it really comes together.

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Photo of WakeandBake
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A slightly hazy copper color pour with a big fluffy long lasting off white head , leaving streeks of sticky lacing behind , light carbonation. Aroma of sweet pink grapefruit, pineapple , spicy resin and an earthy malt note maybe rye. Flavor is grapefruit up front with a rush of spicy earthy bitter hops , dry toasty grainy malt , and finishing with a slightly alcoholic fruitpunch flavor, like rye . nice warning effect , long bitter finish . slick slightly oily mouthfeel at first till the hops dry it back out and you need another sip , full body , very drinkable but I would not call it sessionable , this stuff will kick you in the nuts. I bet this would be a bit better fresh but it still kicks ass ,I had high hopes for this and was not disappointed thank you bells , and I love you Larry xoxoxoxo

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Photo of JoePat
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a beautiful copper color with an off white head.

It has an awsome citrus aroma with some grapefruit, tangerine, and some lemon zest like notes. A little toasted, caramel sweetness that blends with the citrus notes.

It has a nice caramel sweetness along side some flowery and citrus hop flavors creating an explosion of flavor in my mouth.

Mouthfeel is smooth and slippery??? It just seems to slide over my tongue as the hops explode.

This is definately a sipping beer but I think I could easily see my self having more than one.

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Photo of tpd975
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to fogdog for sharing this one.

A: Pours a nice golden hue with a tall foamy head. Nice retention and a good smattering of lace.

S: Lots of bright bitter grapefruit rind with notes of caramel, and candy sugar.

T: Nice tasting beer. Wonderful candy like sweetness with notes of candy sugar, biscuit malt, and toffee. The hop profile is nice. Lots of tart grapefruit juice, with lighter resinous pine notes. There is a hint of herbal grass as well. Darn good.

M: On the fuller side of medium rather full for the style. Smooth feel with just enough hop bite to really carry the flavors.

D: Nice for the style. Larry Bell's knows what he's doing no doubt!

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Photo of Knapp85
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, it was one of the only beers from Bell's that I hadn't been able to find here in PA. The pour of the beer was a nice copper color. The head faded really quickly and didn't leave much lacing at all. The smell of the beer was wonderful, lots and lots of citrus on the nose. Not quite as good of an aroma as HopSlam but close. The taste was a citric pine tartness with a sweet dry aftertaste. The only problem I had with the beer was it's mouthfeel. It seemed to be just a bit watery for my liking. Other than that it was a damn good brew.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
BATCH NUMBER: 9306 (Bottled on August 28, 2009)

The liquid in this glass is a hazy, golden, orange color with a light touch of burnt sienna. The off-white colored head of foam is somewhat thin and wispy, but it sticks around. The lacing is like a 'doily' on the inside of my glass, and rather sticky.

The hops, as expected, hit my olfactory sense first. Big citrus notes abound. Lots of grapefruit, along with some orange rind, lemons and the rest of the usual suspects. There is a good pineapple presence, at this level, which I like alot. A light drizzle of pine tar, also. Underneath all of that is a nice caramel malt presence. A good amount of yeastiness is also detected, along with some nice spiciness.

The citric hop notes hit the tongue first, which follow the nose quite well. The sweetness of the malts then comes in to level it all out. Just as the sweetness seems as if it may overpower the hoppiness, you get that nice kiss of bitterness in the finish.
This is very nicely balanced, overall. Everything plays well together.

This is on the high side of medium, or maybe even the low side of full bodied. It has a good medium level of carbonation, which lends a touch of creaminess to the otherwise very smooth mouthfeel.

If you are in the mood for a bit of hops, but don't mind some malts coming along for the ride, this is a nicely drinkable brew. I'd like to have several more of these. The 10.40%abv is also quite nicely hidden. It drinks like it's around the 5.0% area.

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Photo of gregy55902
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First BA review. Here goes...

12oz bottle poured into an oversized snifter. Bottled on 8/12/2011.

A – light hazy amber with a hint of red when inspected under direct light. Minimal head on a gentle pour, leaving a few patches of bubbles with a bit of lacing.

S – Sweet citrus hops, tropical fruits, and a hint of honey. Rivals the Odell Myrcenary.

T – First sip: the piney hops are introduced and make a strong statement. Alcohol is present yet not overpowering. Robust finish that is a combination of the citrus/piney hop profile, but it is more focused on the piney hops.

M – This is lightly carbonated for a DIPA but I think it works well. It is creamy but also thick and chewy.

O – Great big DIPA. I favor the more citrus-leaning varieties, but this is a well-balanced offering from Bell's more suited to lovers of strong piney hops. I can't wait until January to see how the Hopslam stacks up in comparison.

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Photo of pmoore311
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip in January 2010. Reviewed from my notes.

A = A beautiful copper orange color with a medium white head. Lacing appears on the glass, fairly resinous.

S = Wow! Very citrusy, grapfruit along with a piney astringent smell. This has an amazing bouquet, and is pure hops in the nose.

T = Stinging, astringent and cirusy. Wow what a hop bomb. I am amazed that this beer finishes very crisp and dry without the malty sweetness you get in most DIPA's. Much crisper pinier and citrusy compared to hopslam.

M = Fairly resinous, oily and sticky from the hops, but overall for such a hopbomb was very pleasant and welcoming for the style.

D = Great beer, probably one of the most crisp and bitter DIPA's I have ever had. Not too sessionable given the destruction to the palette from the hoppiness, but would certainly like to see Bells brew this one again.

This is a hop heads beer here, if you like bitter, citrusy DIPA that finish crisp this is for you. I highly recommend this beer.

Bell's please brew this again!

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Photo of warnerry
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 8/12/11

A - Pours a clear deep copper with one finger of off-white head. Head doesn't have great retention, but leaves a sheet of lacing.

S - Big aroma of pine and grapefruit hops, along with some candied fruit. Nice amount of caramel malt and a faint alcohol presence.

T - Big grapefruit pith and resinous pine hops up front. A bit of sweetness, but bitterness predominates. Also some orange pulp and caramel malt. Very nice .

M - Medium resinous mouthfeel. A but sweet in the middle but finishes dry and bitter.

O - A very good DIPA and a nice contrast to Hopslam. I look forward to this one every year.

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Photo of pumptrick
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle bottled on 8/11/11 courtesy AgentZero and his LIF.

A- nice ldark yellow clear with two fingers of head after a hard pour into my Stone IRS tulip. lacing from top to bottom by the end.
S- subdued sweet malty and some grapefruit citrus and maybe pine resin.
t- first is the sweet malt like an aged old guardian then the hops come in and leave a lingering bitterness. then a little heat. I love old guardian aged a couple years but it loses this wonderful hop flavor. Citrus and resiny pine are outstanding.
m- coats my tongue and feels great. thick and wonderful.
o- picked a hell of a beer to end three weeks on atkins diet. this thing is just right.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, I meet the Oracle. And an on-tap version too, at Mellow Mushroom in Greensboro, NC. Yahoo!

Poured a glowing peachy orange color, with a super foamy and sticky head that left big gobs of lace clinging to the glass. A beaut.

Smelling it delivers a big dose of pine resin and citrus, with a considerable malt presence that gives it some candy-like sweetness. It was just a tad cold from the tap, so I let it warm before really trying to get a good whiff, but still, felt maybe it could've been even warmer to really bring out the aromatics.

Taste-wise it wasn't all that hurt by the serving temp, delivering big doses of what the aroma promised: fleshy citrus fruits, pine resin, and a generous dollop of caramel. Super-balanced, with just a hint of salt in there somewhere. Wasn't even all that hot, and for a 10% Double IPA, that's always an achievement. Delicious.

As it should be with this style, it's very round and creamy, sliding slickly down the throat, neither too heavy nor too thin. Just right.

Should I have expected any less? Bell's definitely knows what they're doing with their hops, and the Oracle is far from just another overhyped hop monster.

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Photo of 33nickadams
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Happy 25th Bells! Batch 9901

A- I like the appearance, but I had very little head and not much lacing. Yellowish orange and semi-transparent.

S- Surprisingly, I'm not smelling a high hop nose. It is a pleasant sweet malt and pineapple smell.

T- Sweet and hides the bitterness very well for a dipa. I might not have the finest pallate, but I'm tasting apple.

M- Very easy to drink for a dipa. Smooth.

D- My second of the night, thinking about another...

I love this beer, but still not as good as hopslam. I can't help but compare the two. I would say that oracle is hopslam's younger sister.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). Bottled 8/10/12. Served in a Souther Tier snifter.

Pours clear deep amber with two finger of fluffy head that leaves small patches of lace.

Smell of pine, citrus peel, grapefruit and raisin bread.

Taste is a big bitter grapefruit hop bomb! Those grapefruity hops lead the assault on the palate, followed by the pine, rind, fresh cut grass, biscuits and mellow peppery spice. There's a bit of booze kick, but the 10% is well hidden in the bitter malange of grapefruit.

Medium full feel with mild to medium carbonation. Long dry bitter grapefruit finish.

Outstanding double IPA. One of the best I've had. I can't really compare it to Hopslam because they are two totally different things but this is just as good in it's own way. I really wish I could have bought at least a six pack but I'm really glad to have finally gotten to try this.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's about time that we have a non-West Double IPA that emphasizes extreme bitterness and abandoning the heavily caramelized grains.

The Oracle starts with a medium copper/medium amber color with a subtle russet hue. A rich head formation of eggshell white foam reduces to a sticky sheet and laces in rings as the beer fades away. A very gentlemanly appearance and has all the hallmarks of great IPA's.

Resiny hops lead the aromatic way with pine, fresh cut grasses, and sharp citrus notes. With all the attention on the hop invasion, the crisp graham cracker malts show timidly up front and is everso fleeting from it's initial impression on- just the way a hop-forward beer should. No esters, no harsh alcohols.

Again in flavor, the malts give a suble caramel base, but that is soon swallowed by intense hop flavor and bitterness- this beer is simply not about the malts. Sharp pine, grassy, and resiny flavors are bold, bright, and command attention at all points in the beer's flavor. Once the malt/hop heirarchy is established in flavor, the bitterness kicks in even more and provides the dry crisp and bitter finish that is rarely found even in the greatest IPA's.

Moderately full and creamy early but those textures are quickly thrown to the wind in favor of a quick transition to dry, hoppy, and crispness. Bitter and resiny til the long, lingering end.

A very refreshing Double IPA because it's rare that these big hoppy beers truely exhibit the intense bitterness and dry character throughout that we see here. It's definately a swift kick to the taste buds.

Thanks a ton Cheezdawg!

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Photo of bevenson
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #9901, which was bottled on August 23rd. Served in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass.

A - Copper to light orange and clear. White, pillowy head that hangs around for a minute or so. Looks like a DIPA should look like.

S - Peach and orange hop aromas, with a touch of caramel. Aroma is pretty subdued for a DIPA. Wait, I swirled the glass and then sniffed; there's the hops! Hops definitely come through a lot more as the beer warms, but not as intense as Hopslam. Alcohol evident in nose mid-glass.

T - Hop assault is more intense than expected based on the aroma. Piney, resiny, hops up front, then orange and grapefruit follow. Strong pine, almost gin-like, in the aftertaste which lingers for a long time. Strong, lingering bitterness. Enough bready and caramel malt flavors to remind you that you aren't drinking hop extract.

M - Moderate carbonation and dry, with a little sting from the hops an the alcohol. Very smooth for a 10% DIPA.

D - Personally, I think this beer is better than Hopslam. I can have about a 2 oz sample of Hopslam, but I'm already half way through this bottle. I think the hop aroma could have been better, and I think the choice in bittering hops makes it a little rough for the aftertaste. But I'm nitpicking here. Well worth seeking out.

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Photo of Badbobx
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A - I see a clear orange-copper color with a lasting white head and persistent bold lacing.
S - The smell is strong American hops with strong hints of orange and grapefruit.
T - The taste is wonderful. Bells is the master of the IPA. This is a little sweeter that I thought it would be. Great hop flavors. If this is the only DIPA I drink this year, it would be a stellar year!
M - Great carbonation, a very stimulating beer. I get lots of hop tang front to back.
O - I lucked onto a couple of bottles that were behind the counter. This is a great beer. I will drink this any day.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Kyle for tossing me a couple of these bad boys. Served in my Kuhnhenn tulip. Batch 9306.

A - Pours with three fingers of late-rising light orange/blonde foam. Retention is very good, and there is plenty of curtain-like lacing left behind. Slightly hazed, but still mostly transparent golden orange color that has a nice glow to it. Everything looks extra good in this glass, but this has everything I could ask for from a DIPA in look.

S - A huge amount of tropical fruit flavor - pineapple, mango, mandarin orange - as well a touch of pine and zestiness. There's a nice light malt backbone of dough and candy sugar that imparts some sweetness but tastefully stays in the background. As it warms there is some of the peachy and dank Simcoe flavor that crops up. Awesome, but doesn't explode out of the bottle like some other IPAs and DIPAs.

T - Starts sweet with more of the peachy Simcoe flavor, and exudes more caramel malt and grain character than I expected. I wish there was more of the tropical flavors - they show up mid-palate but are quickly wiped out by some fairly intense bitterness. There's some stronger pine elements that persist along with the bitterness well into the aftertaste. Not as palate-wrecking as I thought it would be. I don't like the flavor quite as much as the smell, it's more like a 4.25.

M - The feel is superb. Medium-thick body, with velvet smoothness, low carbonation that only slightly tingles up the upper lip if you take a protracted swig, and a slight warming finish.

D - The bottle went way faster than I thought it would, and the bitterness dissipates relatively quick. I can feel some alcohol heat building, and this isn't so mind-blowing that I'd be willing to subject myself to cold sweats, pounding headaches, and intense vomiting for just another glass (like PtY).

I'm really glad Larry listened and revisited the Big Head recipe. This doesn't taste quite as good but the alcohol is a little better hidden. In any case, I hope he keeps putting out a summer DIPA for all of us hop junkies who find the year wait for Hopslam to be too much.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,714 ratings.
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