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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 tillmac62
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

BOD 8/8/14. Pours a clear light amber with a touch of dark ruby making it a bit darker than golden. Very nice head with exceptional lacing and retention. Very nice nose of pine, grapefruit, tropical and a somewhat dank hop note over a caramel sweetness that also has a hint of spice. Medium body with a rich oily slick texture. Above average carbonation with a nice effervescent finish. The flavor profile is complex and fairly well balanced given the 10% alcohol content. It begins as a blend of hop flavors, mostly dank with grapefruit and pine notes, that slowly yield to the tropicals as a blended biscuit/caramel sweetness sneaks in. The sweetness fades into a mild bitterness which has a dank and slightly spicy note. As the bitterness fades, alcohol is noted, but not excessively so. The finish is slightly sweet with a nice alcohol burn on the back of the throat. Better than the Mars offering which lacks balance and fails to cover the alcohol well.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 8.29.14. Picked up at Greens on Buford Hwy Sep 2014 with a 2 bottle limit

A - Bronze and golden, 1 finger of head, sticky lace all over the glass. This is the perfect example of an IPA!

A - Citrus and piny hops. Huge aroma. Nice

T - Hoppy! Bitter, and citrus evenly balanced. Bitter aftertaste, but nothing like west coast. Incredibly delicious

M - Light bodied, smooth

O - An Awesome DIPA. Bells knows IPAs. Period. Well done! Drink it if you can find it

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Photo of cjgiant
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review after initial rating (fall, 2013:4.25 straight rating).
Bottle date 08/08/2014:
I had this about a year ago and really enjoyed it. I was still experiencing the cast array of good craft beers, was more of a ticker, and figured I'd be able to get it more often (I had yet to really understand seasonal brews). I can't believe I turned down a chance back then to get more of it.
Another revisit in Aug 2015 of bottle dated 7/10, adding category ratings.

A: almost perfect translucent-to-hazy golden orange. Beautiful foamy head grows nicely and sticks around. The lacing is copious on this one.

S: nose is a tad grainy, but sweetness is honey in nature. I actually expected more hops in the nose, but maybe it's a bit lost after 2 months. What I get is more floral than fruity, more meadow than farm, but distinguishing the scents is hard (3.75)
2nd revisit: with some warmth I get some tropical notes and something like honeydew.

T: classic grapefruit rind and pine IPA to me. Bitter from the get go, even for a DIPA. There is an underlying sweetness that I usually like more up front, but works for me in this beer just fine. The sweetness is more raw sugar-based to me than any beer I've had before, but again, isn't the focus of the taste. This is more dry hop-bomb, west coast-ish in nature. The combination maybe brings some tropical hints, but I feel I am stretching a bit on this. (4.25-4.5)
2nd re-visit: when colder, the sweetness almost overwhelms. At a more proper temp the grapefruit rind comes out, but the tropical notes are there a it more obvious than I indicated before.

M: very smooth, carbonation obvious in appearance is just there to enhance otherwise dry feel. Body is medium, alcohol is pretty well hidden (4.75)
2nd revisit: the alcohol heat is a bit heavier than I noticed before.

O: this did live up to my anticipation even if it didn't exceed it. Given how that usually works, that's a win. A bit more bitterness than I expected (I really didn't recall the taste profile, just that I liked it), but well done to me as I have grown away from this profile over the year. (4.5)

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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 humuloner22
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

This is a very nice offering from Bell's. Its not really like Hopslam, but it is very similar in respect to Two Hearted. I would say this is more like TH in that its malty, balanced, not overly sweet, but more boozy. Which you would expect from the abv.

Pours: Dark amber with some head in the aggressive pour, but it settles to virtually no lacing. Which based upon the abv and style is expected.

Aroma: Hoppy, boozy, some sweet maltiness. This is not a beer that is outstanding from the rest, but it is very solid. It might be confused with being too pedestrian, but I find it so well balanced that is why people would think in this regard.

Taste: Sweetness, piney, tropical and floral hops dominate ,but you get a good malt balance going on. Its very similar to Mars, I imagine they follow a similar recipe. My only complaint is that it does have a fair amount of alcohol in the taste. Not that this is a bad thing but its not one you can drink more than two of in a night.

Overall: I don't think this is a true west coast style DIPA, but I do think it is somewhat true to the style with a mid-west interpretation. Some have said its pretty mundane, but I think that is just people who have had too many Hop bombs this year. I felt this one was well balanced and enjoyable.

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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 Roguer
3.24/5  rDev -22.1%
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 pat61
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

spicy floral hop aromas, very hoppy with both spicy and bitter hop elements – obviously hopped in multiple stages. Like many American IPAs and what you would expect from a double IPA, the hops really dominate but the malt and the alcohol provide a nice balance. Bells demonstrates how to do a super hoppy beer – it has intense bitterness and almost comes off as an elixir with the alcohol almost adding to the bitterness – this is probably not a session beer but would make a nice aperitif beer for before or after dinner.

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Photo of spacebear09
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Appearance- Golden, well carbonated brew with a small head but good lacing

Smell- Cotton candy, pineapple

Taste- Massive grapefruit, lemon, mango, finishes very dry and slightly astringent. Cloying sweetness and a little pill bitterness. Biscuity malt profile that is barely detectable.

Mouthfeel- Crisp and tangy

Overall- Good but not my favorite.

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Photo of denver10
3.15/5  rDev -24.3%

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 pkalix
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

there is no smell or aroma that I can detect....
glad it's a 12oz'er....... so tired of these "bombers" I have to finish even after they are warm.
lots o' malt, biscuit, honey. lots o' bitterness.... typical 10% IPA... I believe I have met the best and there is nothing to get better. this one is pretty good. nothing other than that which is "special" to report... Bell's has done better...

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Photo of McSmack
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Back with the Oracle review from Bell's. A couple days ago I reviewed the Planet Series "Mars". Both Mars and Oracle are DIPAs. Whereas Mars has a heavy malty profile that is light on the hops, the Oracle does a great job balancing the hops creating a great drinking beer. The Oracle does a good job of hiding the 10% abv. I prefer the Oracle style of DIPA over the Mars. But try them both to see for yourselves.

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Photo of FanofHefe
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip. Slightly hazy yellow/orange body. Two finger off-white head that fades to a nice cap fairly quickly with bit of lacing.

The first aroma is tropical but it fades to a more pine - grassy note. Light amount of sweet malt aroma.

The flavor is very pine hop forward, opposite of my experience with the aroma. Sweet finish that features the tropical hop and malt flavors.

Medium thickness in the mouthfeel with only a slight notice of the alcohol. Rock solid DIPA that I'm glad to have finally tasted.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

appearance: slightly hazy amber. Nice thick, messy eggshell head and lacing.
smell: Deep, rich, citrusy with a hint of sweetness. Big redolent nose.
taste: Mostly dry, citrusy hops. Sharply bitter finish.
overall: Very nice indeed.

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Photo of Hop-Droppen-Roll
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

A hazy orange yellow - the lazing as of yet is a unique bubbly film that completely consumes the entire surface area of the inch left of glass, save for the ver lip itself. The nose gets me excited, as it reminds me of the time I got to try Double Jack and Pliny... yet a more talented reviewer could go into more detail. The best I can do is that it's boozy and hoppy - maybe that's indicative of some less desireable traits - and I'll need to come forth and say outright that I did precede this glass with a glass of Mars, which I find to be superior - but this is still fantastic. Just a little less refined. On the tongue there is pine and citrus - but mostly it's boozy bitterness. I'm not complaining - I dig these characteristics - but it could be a little more balanced.

Overall this is a terrific beer. Worth the bucks, but if it were available year-round, I would rarely pick it up. On this rotating schedule though, I'll likely be picking up one six-pack per year.

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Photo of avalon07
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Pours a clear golden orange with a tight white head that leaves chunks of lacing.

Smells of bright, juicy hops.

Tastes of big, bright hops with a solid malt base. Hops lead off with notes of grapefruit, mango, and pineapple. Plenty of pine and bitterness as well. Malts come next with caramel sweetness and toasted bread. Enough sweetness to balance it out. Finishes with a bitter touch of pine hops.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a tasty DIPA and stands up with some of the best out there.

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Photo of Wobbly
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%

I found this beer to be a bit too much, even for this style. It lakes the balance and nuance of other IPA's. I prefer Bell's new release, Mars, to this for sure. Still worth trying.

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Photo of Dwkasper
4.16/5  rDev 0%

A: Golden bronze, thick white head, good lacing, single tunnel of CO2 bubbles rising in the center of the glass, even a little nuts and oil

S: Not a strong aroma but woody, earthy, maybe just a hint of citrus and over ripe peach

T: Bitter up front, strong taste from the first sip until a few seconds after. Piney, bitter hops and oily. This is the 2nd time I've had this beer and the first that the tastes were this strong and pungent. Strong malt and syrupy after taste that sticks to the tong.

M: harder carbonation, chalkiness on the tong

O: Good beer. For some reason, the first time I had it was much easier to drink. 2nd time had more bitterness and malty syrup that I didn't like as much. Overall, I will pick up this beer when I can get it.

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Photo of scvance
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a slightly hazy golden to copper color with a thick, long lasting off white head. Smell is lots of resin and pine all the way through, with slight hint of caramel. Taste follows, very strong pine and slight citrus notes. Fades to a moderate sweetness and finishes with a long lasting bitter bite. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, slightly higher than expected for the style. Overall very well done, very smooth for such a strong beer. Definitely can't taste the high alcohol, which could be dangerous. Will definitely have again if I can find it.

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Photo of djhowell
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Sweet caramel and bread malts, honey, pine & citrus hops, bitter grapefruit finish. Boozy. It's not unlike Hopslam but I prefer this by a wide margin.

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Photo of Budinetz
4.95/5  rDev +19%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled on 8/8/14 stamped on the label.

Pours a light amber color with a light white head. Beautiful lacing is visible all around the glass. Smells of citrusy hops and a nice malty backbone. Tastes a bit sweet on the tongue from the nice malt profile and finishes with a bitter, dry, sticky, hoppy finish. Beautifully balanced DIPA! Very drinkable despite the 10% abv. This one will sneak up on you because it drinks like a 6.5% IPA. Very hard to find but if you do, be sure to share!


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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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Photo of fmccormi
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%

Straight pour from a pry-off 12oz bottle to an oversized wineglass (JK stemware). There’s a bottling date of August 8, 2014 printed in black ink near the bottom-right corner of the back label (“13357 PKGD 8/08/14 A”), making this beer four weeks old exactly at the time of consumption.

Appearance (4.5): A finger and a half of dense, ivory-colored foam rise off of the pour, capping a nearly clear, rich orange, honey-colored body. The head dies down at a slower than average pace, leaving a clumpy, fuzzy film on the surface of the beer and a thicker collar at the edge. As the body dies down, it leaves some gorgeous lacing, in the form of scattered suds on the near side, wide, foamy splotches on the far side, and a few crooked legs occupy the sides. Beautiful body, nice head, and gorgeous lacing.

Smell (4.0): This certainly has a nice, bright aroma that’s got an oily, pungent grapefruit peel acidity backed by some resinous heat, underlaid by a slightly garlicky, dank, weedy scent. A little malt base is present, showing honey and rustic white bread. As it opens up, it moves further toward the garlicky-dank aroma, but still retains a light orangey, citrus character.

Taste (4.25): Really packs a punch on the palate: strong citrus zest (grapefruit peel, orange pith), spicy, resinous heat, toasted country bread, limoncello, and a little toffee . . . wet, grassy bitterness and a little vegetal character pick up on the back end and carry through to a long, surprisingly smooth and dry, pithy finish. Some warm white bread, a little honey, and grapefruit zest come out more as the beer warms up a little, but grassy bitterness, resinous heat, and just a little honeyed bread still dominate. There’s a bit of heat here, for sure, but it’s almost completely hidden behind grassy, resinous hops.

Mouthfeel (4.5): So smooth and rich—the carbonation is fine and velvety, the body is smooth and on the full- side of medium-weight, bordering on syrupy at first but lightening up quickly to a smooth finish that immediately dissipates into some gaseous, alcoholic warmth. And yet, it’s not hot. It’s just smooth, fine, rich, but not heavy, syrupy, or prickly.

Overall (4.25): This is a beautiful DIPA. It’s not quite as bombastic as some, and maybe not as rich as others, but as you’d expect from Bell’s this beer is well-crafted, very refined, and it integrates all of its different elements seamlessly. In terms of its hops profile, it trends toward dank and grassy, but definitely retains some citrusy character. It’s not lopsidedly hoppy like most DIPAs today, nor is it too malty, but it still doesn’t come off as “balanced” so much as it comes off as nuanced. The hops/malt balance is subtle and refined, and the way it hides its booze is telling—it’s just a refined, well-crafted DIPA. Great job.

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Photo of Kendo
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

A: Poured from the bottle into a Duvel tulip. Body is clear golden-orange with a small white head. Nice lace left behind. 4.25.

S: Sugar-cookie dough malt foundation is followed up by tropical fruity hops.

T: Light malt foundation - again, I think of sugar-cookie dough - is overrun by the hops: tropical fruit salad and pine at the finish. Lingering raw pine needles on the palate in the aftertaste. Heat from ABV is noted on the back end of the sip and in the belly.

M: Medium in heft with a slightly gritty feel to it - perhaps that overly-bitter pine needle sensation creates that feeling. Still quite nice though.

O: A very good DIPA. Lingering piney hop bitterness let's you know this one is a hop bomb.

O: Real nice

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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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