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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: 778 | Ratings: 2,679
Photo of dar482
3.66/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

The beer comes in a medium hazy deep gold.

The aroma is a touch muted. Sweet grapefruit, hints of caramel, sweet fresh bread, onto dank, onion, chive, garlic, earthy, resin.

The beer hints of lots of resin and huge piney bitterness throughout, full on. There's some grapefruit marmalade upfront and caramel and bready, only hidden by an almost abrasive and sticky bitterness of earthy, resin, dank.

The aroma has juicy citrus and grapefruit, floral, resinous pine, and some caramel malt.

The flavor follows with a pop of big sweetness on the front. Lots of malt on this beer with a bit of grapefruit peel and lots of leafy green pine on the back.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.67/5  rDev -11.8%
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 -11.5%
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 TheBrosy
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle.

Appearance: Pours a nice gold with medium off-white head that slowly dissipates. Very clear.

Smell: Nice citrus smell. Some pine and floral hop smell to balance.

Taste: Very smooth. Hop bitterness is present, but very pleasant. Malt flavor seems to be a bit lost. Alcohol flavor is quite noticeable. Starts bitter, becomes sweet, ends with some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation.

A pretty solid DIPA. The malt bill gets lost in the hops and the alcohol is a bit overbearing.

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Photo of ARoman
3.69/5  rDev -11.3%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -11.1%
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 -10.8%
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 -10.8%
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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Photo of klikger
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Bruery tulip

A - Rich amber, cloudy, small white head, & great lacing

S - Honey and a hint of hops. I'm underwhelmed (and potentially broken-nosed).

T - Caramel, honey, and floral hops --> toffee --> barrage of hops shows up near the end: the finish is grapefruit bitter, and this is joined by more malty sweetness in the aftertaste.

M - Thick for a DIPA; gets syrupy as it warms, but not horrifically.

D - I could have another, which is good for a DIPA this strong and sweet.

Not nearly as good as HopSlam, but a quality midwestern DIPA nonetheless. Solid, but not spectacular.

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Photo of brian44556
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz bottle into Stone Tulip. Packaged 8/12/11.

Pours a very hazy, amber color with a half-finger, frothy white head. Thick lacing left on the sides of the glass. Smell notes of orange peels, pineapples, grapefruit, and bready malts. Taste notes of grapefruit, orange peels, and sweet malts. This one is crazy bitter from the hops and somewhat balanced out by the sweet malt flavor. A hophead's dream! Mouthful is fine and beer is well carbonated. Overall a decent beer. I bought 14 singles of this and will not have a problem drinking them. A few steps behind its brother HopSlam, but nonetheless a decent DIPA.

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Photo of babaracas
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear bright copper with one finger of dense creamy foam; spray of lace down the glass. Smell: ripening melon, orange peel, spicy and slightly resinous. Majorly underpowered. Taste: a pop of grapefruit peel, then quite spicy with pine needles galore, fading into a very tea-like back. Residual orange marmalade. Medium bodied; oily hop and booze really undercut the otherwise stellar creamy feel, finish tries to dry out but is still oily and quite bitter. It's alright. There are at least a dozen better wide distribution DIPAs for far less scratch.

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Photo of qchic
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hazy peach, frothy top. Smells of citric, pine, and sticky caramel. Alcohol is there, and noticeable in the flavor immediately. Not surprising for a 10% DIPA. Pine dominates the flavor, with hints of fruit and plenty of balancing malt to make this a thick sipper. Lots of bitter throughout, but especially in the finish. Don't mind the warming effect, though I see this was bottled in July, so maybe they should release this after the summer.

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Photo of chinchill
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 fl oz. bottle with a bottling date of 10 July 2015.

The off-white head is exceptionally creamy, holds up well, and leaves plenty of sticky lacing on the glass. The body is hazy amber-copper.

Aroma: Chiefly fruity hops with some faint floral notes but no sign of malt. Misleadingly suggests a sweet and tart flavor. Gets more complex upon warming.

Taste: loads of hops, including citrus, floral and pine notes. A bit boozy with hints of tangerine peel, apricots and oranges. Moderate-high bitterness but with some sweetness and without a complete overload of bitter grapefruit peel in the aftertaste.

Overall: fine example of the DIPA style.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark orange, with a half inch head, and a lot of lacing.

Smells quite floral and piney, with a bit of grapefruit. No malt is noticed.

The taste is the same- incredibly piney and floral, just smacks you over the head with hop flavors. It's exceedingly bitter, almost to the point of a problem. The bitterness overwhelms any other flavors that might have been intended by the brewer. There's a bit of sweet syrupy malt flavor. No alcohol is present that I can tell.

This one has a fairly big, sweet syrupy body and mouthfeel, with a medium amount of carbonation. A bit of a slow sipper.

Not the best DIPA I've had, there are a few problems here.

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Photo of marcpal
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First review in a while and had to given the high expectations for this and having traded for a four-pack.

I have had the lovely Hopslam and it is among my favorite, have had the Big Head SD style by Bells and loved it, but this did not meet my high hopes.

I thought the first could have been due to the beat up bottles that came in the trade but the second had a similar taste. It wasnt't skunked or anything, just overdone and not well mapped out in my opinion.

A: Poured into oversized Portsmouth brewing goblet. Dark orange color with a nicely capped head and serious lacing for such a high test brew. Nice start.

S: Citrusy and earthy hops but the burn of the alcohol resides right in the nose. The smell is nice but not anything that would leave me drooling (see the great Hopslam)

T: Nice hit of bitterness florally in the front but that kind of gives way a bit too easily. More bitterness dissipates in the finish but not drinking like a true imperial. Mango and pineapple are the high points for sure but the overly sweet malt backbone didn't do wonders for these guys.

M: Pretty darn thick with not much lingering bitterness. The sweetness came through more than one would hope and would have asked for some more chew.

D: I will surely finish and enjoy the rest of the pack, it was not worth the trade. It may not be fair to compare directly to Hopslam and SD style, but thats what Im doing and this doesnt match up.

Thanks Brewdan for the chance.

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Photo of glazeman
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at the Michigan Brewer's Guild tasting: reviewed from notes

A: Dark amber in color with an off white head that had excellent retention

S: This one smelled fairly medicinal to me, with the hop notes being some sort of mixture of floral grapes and a little bit of pine

T: The taste was a tad sweet to start and bitter at the finish. Not much citrus in this beer, but some pine was definitely noticeable. Not my favorite tasting DIPA.

M: A little above average for the category with a nice mouthfeel and appropriate level of carbonation.

D: Something about the taste, causes me to not really be attracted to this beer. It's somewhat plain and not as interesting as I would have liked. The flavors don't sit well enough on the tongue to have me wanting more. With all that said, it really isn't a bad beer though.

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Photo of jwerner23
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

I think this beer has potential but isn't quite there. It is a little too hot right now, maybe with a couple more weeks of aging it will mellow the alcohol flavor out a little. I think it is a good beer don't get me wrong but just a little too much alcohol flavor right now. The weird thing though was the first couple drinks were very good, but then the hotness of the alcohol started showing up. I will come back to this in a couple weeks when I let a couple bottles age a little.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,679 ratings.
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