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 LAp
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big nose from the bottle. Very reminiscent of Unsessionable, or some of the incredible Alpine IPAs - lots of savory hops mixed with pine. A vaguely cloudy honey-orange with a thick half-finger off-white head. Nosing from the glass yields a sharp profile, ripe with pine, hop, a touch of tangerine, The palate straddles an intriguing line between malty, dank-savory, and purely bitter IPA. The opening is caramel malt sweetness, but mixed with a dank double IPA vibe. These give way to an aftertaste that is raw, almost abrasive (in a good way) bittering hop. A unique amalgam of IPA styles. The beer carries a solid body - medium-to-medium-thick.

It's an incredible beer that almost tastes like Hopslam imbued with more West Coast sensibilities. The entire package doesn't come off quite as polished as does the aforementioned titan of Bell's, but it's a formidable figure nonetheless. It's a beer that blurs styles in an almost-unrefined way, and a worthwhile meditation on the versatility of the DIPA.

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Photo of Beers-es
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 3-week-old bottle, pours a clear orange with a finger of foam. Decent lacing for a beer this big. Smell is a bit muted, but I get some generic fruit and pine followed by malt.

Taste is a lot bigger than the smell, with prickly pine needles and fruit with some definite booziness joining in the proceedings. Malt is vying with the hops here, and almost winning, but it's more hop-forward. Honestly, this beer is so well integrated it's almost hard to pick apart the individual elements. Never tasted anything exactly like it.

Feel is a thickish medium. Overall, a good and unique take on a IIPA (one that's approaching IIIPA status).

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Photo of SawDog505
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a 13 oz Weyerbacher tulip glass bottled on 7/26/16. Pours a very dark orange with a 2 finger off white head, that clings to the glass.

Smell is apricot, tangerine, pine, and grapefruit rind.

Taste is much more aggressive, add some dankie marijuana flavor I didn't really get from the nose and man this thing is really awesome! Pine and grapefruit are really big and maybe a little alcohol lingers on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is almost large for the style, the perfect amount of life, maybe a touch dry, and for 10% ABV this drinks far to easy. Excellent beer, thanks @jzeilinger for sharing one of these.

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Photo of Qbdoo
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A light golden color with a solid white head head. Aroma is not super strong but it's mostly tropical citrus. Taste is similar with a light grapefruit touch combined with a rather bitter hop bite. Texture is pleasantly light and effervescent, particularly for a DIPA. Not quite "world-class" but a tasty and drinkable DIPA. Wish it were year round.

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Photo of 98green
4.04/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter. Look is light orange and clear. Smell is spicy and citrus, plenty of alcohol esters as it warms. Taste is aggressive bitter up front, decent linger, hops more on the dank an earthy side. Malt balances, but bitter is the powerhouse here (in a good way). Feel is thin initially, but a very boozy back end. 10% is tough to hide. Overall a very good effort. I will keep an eye out for the next time it rotates through.

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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 OmahaKF
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Smell is heavy pineapple, sweet malt, orange citrus, some onion, and as it slightly warms I pick up notes of lavender, honey, and orange blossom. Taste is pineapple and herbal tea, with some booziness. Bells definitely does a nice job with the double IPAs - the oily mouthfeel of this one reminded me of Hopslam, but slightly sweeter and less bitter.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.04/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Comes in a darker orange color, amber, auburn, 1/2" soft off white head, some chunkies in the beer. Aroma had a sweet pineapple all over it. A little bit of warming alcohol for you.

Taste was the most pineapple I had ever come across in a beer. Before there was pineapple Sculpin, this was the biggest driver of pineapple in a beer. Lots of tropical fruit feels, on the sweet end, plenty of caramel malt impact on this one too. Big beer that does relatively well at hiding its strength.

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Photo of jvonsege
4.44/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Golden Amber color. A honey flavor followed by a pungent hop taste. Deep strong grapefruit flavor followed up by distinct bitterness. Long pleasant grapefruit aftertaste. Wish I could have tasted it when it was fresher. I don't taste the alcohol It's well integrated. Thick mouthful

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a globe.

A: Tawny colored with a good haze that makes it opaque. Fine-bubbled white head retains well. Thin sheets of lacing lazily slide back into the liquid.

S: Strong bouquet of pine. Pithy citrus fruits including grapefruit, pomelo, and blood orange. Apricot too. Sturdy bread and caramel malt base.

T: Pine and pine sap up front. Intense clamping bitterness. Ruby red grapefruit, blood orange, apricot. Perhaps some red fruits too. Bitterness spikes hard in the middle, where it meets a stiff alcohol presence. Toast, crust, and caramel malt flavors struggle to keep up, but do just enough to balance adequately. Long and bitter finish of bracing hop oils.

M: Big and thick in the mouth. Chewy and creamy-smooth. Stiff blast of fine carbonation.

O: This breed of double IPA is starting to become more scarce now that the less bitter Southern Hemisphere hop strains are all the rage, and now that malt profiles in IPAs are largely shrinking. Here we have an intense but controlled onslaught of American hops in all their bombastic, bitter, pine-and-citrus glory. The malt backbone is necessarily hefty to support the hopping, and it is unabashedly big and even a bit boozy. Loud, bold, and brawny. There's nothing small about it, and that's exactly what you should love about it. It's like a 70s muscle car. There will always be a place in a beer geek's heart for a brew like this.

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Photo of SirEbril
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle dated 7/10/15 so pushing the freshness envelope. Definitely a malty double IPA - tasty but Midwest in style (vs. West Coast) - hides the 10 very well and remains pretty balanced. Orange/tangerine hoppiness, bitter but complex enough to be pleasant.

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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 Frozetoes
3.37/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Expected a bigger punch right of the bat but it wasn't there. However, the taste lingers along with the IPA bitter. Interesting. The 10% Abv might restrict my intake at the bar, so I'll have to try it at home.

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Photo of jimbus
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Passion fruit, tangerine, and some dank apricot. The IBUs and pine rip your teeth. Lacing like a boss, coats the glass thick as pond scum. Carbonation on point. I can feel my chest hair growing.

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Photo of RyanPoff
2.83/5  rDev -32%
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 razorsdescent
4.73/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A beer I have been excited to try, poured from the bottle into my trusty tulip glass.

L - A wonderful golden orange color, with a slightly off white head. Wonderful champagne tight carbonation. Resinous lacing abounds. - 5

S - Pine, a hint of citrus, and some astringency, actually lots of astringency, especially as the beer warms. You know from the smell that it has some booze. This hits the low note for the beer, it is simply too astringent to be perfect - 4.5

T - the all important taste category. Pine dominates, and makes this a fairly bitter brew. There is some slight citrus and honey, I cannot tell if the latter is due to the 3 months between bottling and pouring, or not. You can taste the booze, but it is not overwhelming. The aftertaste is fairly boozy, and has slight hints of bubblegum - 4.75

F - This feels right. That tight carbonation, and resins which coat the tongue make for the perfect accompaniment. - 5

O - Bell's has hit a triple-run with this beer. While I don't like it as much as Hopslam (one of my true beer loves) or even Mars when it was released, it is a wonderful beer. If it had a less astringent smell, thus hitting that taste score one iota up, it would be another perfect beer from Bell's. I want to taste this fresher so I can figure out if the sweetness is inherent, or due to age. -4.75

Had prior to my last bottle of this year's Hopslam, and I feel it compares quite favorably.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
2.99/5  rDev -28.1%
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 Eamonn-Cummings3
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Speiglau glass.

Aroma is malt bomb, initially worried me that is was an out of date beer but its still less than 3 months old. Some herbal hop notes.

Taste is herbal lemon hops with a strong malt balance. You can really taste the 10% without the alcohol just from the malt.

Excellent beer, not easy drinking but fun to drink.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, dated 7/10/15

Hazy orange golden color, bright white head. Good head retention, and lots of lacing.. strong hoppy aroma of citrus zest. Mild biscuit malt flavor is dominated by the hop bitterness and flavor. Drier finish. a bit too bitter for me. Medium body, mouthfeel is a bit sticky.

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Photo of VTR
3.47/5  rDev -16.6%
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.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an orange-copper hue, short white head that falls quickish to a nice creamy color leaving excellent lacing. The nose hits with floral, spicy, pine tar hops, caramel malt and some alcohol. The taste is a whack-ton of piny, bitter, astringent hops as well as sweet, caramel malt...a palate wrecker. Creamy, round and a bit syrupy on the palate. High powered test, an agressive DIPA.

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Photo of creepinjeeper
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. Bottle poured into a snifter.
Look: Hazy orange cloudy. Fluffy off white head that settles into nice lacing.
Smell: Orange rind, honey, mango, pine.
Taste: Citrus, tropical, pine, little boozy finish.
Feel: Piney hop finish.
Overall: Everything a DIPA should be and more.

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Photo of HopHunter19
3.77/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

7/2/2015 bottle - this was at one of my favorite local stores and I'm not sure why the distribution took so long with this one, having taken 2 1/2 months to get from Michigan to SW Missouri.

A - nice golden, clear beer, white fluffy head that leaves nice lacing
S - Clean hoppy smell, pine, grapefruit, orange peel
T - Again this beer has a very clean taste, with the hops being mostly piney and grapefruit flavors, with some light fruits in there
M - light-medium, alc covered, aftertaste is piney hops
O - I didn't get as much fruit character as some people who have reviewed this seem to be getting, but at 2 1/2 months out I'd expect that this isn't a completely fair review. I'm not sure why it took 2 1/2 months for a beer like this to make the 12 hour drive from MI to MO, but either way I gotta knock a few points off for the slow distro. I hope it doesn't take 3 months to transport HopSlam to MO this winter!

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Photo of Hop_God
3.99/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: golden to neon orange. Amber hue. thick creamy white bubbles

S: booze. Citrus. Fruity candy. Malt. Slight bitter hops . Resin

T: bitter up front malty back. Quite boozy. pine sol at the end also

F: boozy bite. Bitter palate

O: not bad. High booze. High piney bitterness

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Photo of neenerzig
4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I was in the right place at the right time a few weeks ago to bet the word about one of a very few stores if not perhaps the only store in the greater Cleveland area that got 6 packs of this in when Bell's released their bottles of this this year. From what I understand this year is the first year that Bell's bottled this beer, and they only bottled very limited batches. Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into one of my tulip glasses, this beer pours a somewhat cloudy, hazy, medium golden/copper color with a nice white, fluffy looking head that is about an inch thick when poured and lots of little streams of bubbles rapidly and continuously rising to the beer's surface. The head eventually settles to a solid 1/2 of an inch thick with quite excellent retention and very nice lacing as well. Aromas of citrus, piney, and pineapple hops along with a nice toasted caramel malt presence. Has an exciting hop profile of citrus, mango, piney resin, and pineapple with perfect bitterness that is all followed with a nice, toasted caramel malt sweetness along with a good hint of honey. A very nice flavor balance, but the hop bitterness does dominate a bit here for sure. Has a slightly crisp, but really a mostly creamy, frothy, smooth, resinous, slightly oily and chewy, full bodied mouthfeel with fairly minimal carbonation, which is surprising given the massive streams of bubbles this beer had when it was first poured into the glass. Has a clean and dry finish and the bitterness really likes to linger here. And that's a very nice thing. A very good DIPA here from Bell's!


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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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