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 Haybeerman
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Bright, burnt orange/copper color. Pours a 1 finger off-white head that dissipates to a thin skim. Laces in thin rings.

S: Big citrussy and floral hop bomb up front. As the beer warmed a bit and decanted, roasted malt and a little sugar well in the background.

T: Lots of citrus hops; orange rind, grapefruit. Resiny hops coat through the middle. Some unfermented sugar and a little toasted malt character. Huge bitter builds in the finish. This beer is a hop monster.

M: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. Resiny and very bitter.

D: ABV is a bit daunting, but disguised well. A little rough to have more than one, but totally enjoyed it.

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Photo of drxandy
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got a bottle of the first bottling and thought i reviewed it, apparently not - this batch around, here we go

12oz to tulip glass, pours a peachy shade, creamy head retains excellently

smells of hops and more hops, biscuity malt

taste is nice and dry, sweetness in the middle, bitter lingering delicious hops. good finish

mouthfeel is bitter and creamy

overall a very nice dipa, very drinkable, good weight for alc content and excellent balance.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the 2010 Minnesota Brew Review.

Appearance: Amber orange hazy with an ethereal glow when held up to the sun.

Smell: Powerful resin-pine and citrus-grapefruit hops right up front. Underlying orange and sweeter tropical scents like pineapple. Fantastic like I'm hewing blue spruce while I've got a chaw of grapefruit rinds.

Taste: Take no quarter bitterness of a heap of hops, I'm detecting tangy oranges, lemons, grapefruit, candied pine sap and spicy herbal bitters. Only the slightest nod to something resembling malt that lends a faint background note of roasted caramel, yet this somehow mananges to lend balance.

Mouthfeel: Lush and creamy.

Drinkability: This is an incredibly DIPA. Who would know it's 10.4% ABV? Who cares. More please.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bell's Oracle DIPA on tap at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, WI, poured into a snifter. A special tapping for a Bell's Event celebrating their anniversary!

Appearance: Beautiful cloudy orange, nice fluffy head. Thick lacing.

Smell: Hops, citrus aromas. Very light considering the heft of this brew. Some sweetness. The booziness is well hidden, unlike in the bottle version.

Taste: Fruity. Sweet-to-bitter buildup. Floral overtones.

Mouthfeel: Nice, pleasant. Fine carbonation. Medium to full body, creamy as it goes down.

Drinkability: High! This is a big beer that -on draught- drinks easy and doesn't show the brutal ABV. I find the bottle version to be harsh, bitter, cloying and not exactly drinkable. The tap version is much easier and balanced and, while not my favorite DIPA, Oracle sure does work.

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Photo of zoso493
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first review in a long time after a lengthy BA hiatus. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a not-quite-dry DFH signature glass.

Appearance: Pours a brilliant, burnt copper orange. This beer glows an absolutely radiant amber-orange when held up to the light. A timid pour produces a foamy one-finger head that dissipates quickly and leaves some narrow striations of lacing on the glass.

Smell: This is just a sensational scent for a DIPA. Nothing but hops in the nose. There's a big blast of juicy, fruity hops up front that absolutely decimate the malts. The tropical hops are just immense in the smell, exactly as the should be in a DIPA. If you really strain, you can detect some slightly sugary and lightly toasted malts hiding somewhere in the background.

Taste: This is just a brashly hopped out DIPA that says to hell with balance and malts, DIPA's should be about the hops. It's a bitter, monstrous DIPA and I love that about it. I can barely even distinguish between the hops in the taste, and I suppose ultimately that is what prevents this beer from attaining the perfect. I am assuming from the smell that the hops are of a juicy, orange fruity character, but my palate is too far destroyed at this point to say for sure. The malts in this one are unique, if only hardly detectable. Most big DIPA's go for the sugary, caramel malts to coat the hops, but Bells has chosen to give this one a toasted malt profile.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel in Oracle is very nice. It's just thick enough without being cumbersome, but still does not leave a big cloying sensation on your palate, though the hops do stick around enough to let you know they're there.

Drinkability: If I have one quip with the Oracle it's that the alcohol is little bit too noticeable in the taste. It's certainly not very offputing, but it really doesn't belong in a DIPA.

Overall, Bells Oracle is yet another great offering Larry Bell. I'm an unabashed hophead and this brew is exactly the cure for a hop fix. Though Oracle is not complex enough to be considered a really "elite" beer, it is still a masterfully powerful DIPA and one that I consider myself lucky to have tried.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 12 oz. bottle, Batch 9901, sent amongst a treasure trove of Upper Midwest goodies by hoppymeal; thank you, Derek. Poured to a pint glass (Abita). 'Alc. 10.0% by Vol.'

Back label: 'A double IPA that is sure to make you as all-knowing as Pythia. It's just a matter of interpretation.'

Personal Pet Peeve Alert: Front label's 'DIPA Ale' = Double India Pale Ale...Ale. That's the equivalent of 'ATM Machine', annoying and wrong.

A: Auburn/butterscotch orange with just a few of the laziest, good-fer-nuthin' bubbles these eyes have seen. A brief head, whitish cream that can't even reach a half-finger. Good lace in gooey ribbons and dense, threadbare sheets.

S: An aroma like cut pine, spiced wood and resin. Orange and some pineapple, sweet and alluring.

T: Almost finished the glass before I had taken a single mote on's a busy one, layers of toffee/caramel malt on spiced hops, earthy and sappy and green. Lime/grapefruit citrus rind hardly seems bitter here, it's more like a candied version. Lasting grassy/herbal bitters and plenty of sweet spice, a flavor I don't want to end.

M: Remarkable creaminess/smoothness, molten and refined. Medium-full body without being cloying/sticky whatsoever. Soft carbonation and a velvety coating of sticky tang. Beautiful feel.

D: Dangerously drinkable, a deceptively hidden alcohol paired with brilliant hop/malt balance makes The Oracle among a select few DIPA (Ale)s I would crave. Wow, very tasty and worth what little effort I had to go through to get it (thanks again, Derek!). Disappeared far too quickly and would love more...hint, hint!

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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 nlmartin
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer was served chilled in an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The beer has a very nice clear coppery orange coloration. The head has a pancake batter coloration. Speaking of pancakes the beer leaves an almost pancake batter lacing on my glass. Great head retention that stands up to my manly mustache.

Smell: Very resinous pine combines with grapefruit marmalade and covers a bit of caramel biscuit maltyness.

Taste: The hops really bite me on the lip. What can I say it warms my cold heart. I am really digging the pine resin hops. The grapefruit vias with the alcohol almost vodka and juice style. Caramel biscuit malt peaks its head out but gets slammed by hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The mouthfeel of the beer is medium. The alcohol is a bit hot but I think it works well. The hops are very forward and aggressive. No balance to be found and really non wanted. This was a beer that should have taken a bit more time to drink but I couldnt stop myself. Very tasty and well made. Man I wish I had more.

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Photo of BigJim5021
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours somewhere between orange and copper with a big, lasting white head. Quite a bit of lacing.

Aroma is mostly piney hops (cascade?) and a hint of caramel malt. Some grapefruit too. It smells good, but I expect bigger aroma from a DIPA.

Flavor is all the components that you get in the nose, but more pronounced. Piney, resinous hops dominate, but the caramel malt backbone and citrus fruit play a nice supporting role.

Mouthfeel is a beyond medium with a good deal of stickiness from the hops.

I could put back a couple of these before the pine and strength kicked me in the dick. All that said, this beer is nowhere near as spectacular as Hopslam. I tend to wonder why it's even necessary to make multiple beers within the same style. I suppose I shouldn't complain, as this is still a very solid DIPA

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Photo of Freethyhops
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

good ole' batch finder lets me know this batch 9901 is just over a month old. maybe too old for those obsessive Cali folks, but plenty fresh IMO.

a- pours a translucent light orange color. a sticky, lacy snow white head with average retention. really can't knock a 10% brew for that, though. this one lights up with some beautiful tones when held to light.

s- really nice hop bouquet on this one. much more West Coast in comparison to Hopslam. very pine centered, with good grapefruit and orange citrus notes. a bit grassy and boozy after the initial hop burst. obviously bitter even on the nose.

t- bitter bitter pine. really hits a soft spot in my IPA heart. again grapefruit is the main citrus component. a bit of biscuit in the bready drying finish. the maltiness is mostly caramel and soft spicy alcohol. this beast really gets exceptionally bitter as it warms. really one of the more bitter DIPAs I've had. good ole' palate assault.

m- a real big bodied ale here. the bitterness and high-moderate carbonation really adds to that fullness. everything is working in sync here.

d- as much as I love the bitterness. a big bold brew like this really isn't something I can drink a lot of; it just wears on me after a few. I will most certainly return to this one, at an even fresher date next time it comes around. a bonafide hop bomb

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Photo of redsox3g2
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured a bottle into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

The head on this was perfect, thick and tasty. The first sip was delicious. Not your typical IPA hoppy flavor, but more sweet and you can definitely taste the high alcohol content. Honestly it was not the type of beer I was expecting, so it was a bit of a disappointment off the bat. The first few tastes though were very good, and an incredibly rich and complex flavor made it one of the more interesting beers I've had in a while. A little over halfway through, however, the strong sweetness of the flavor made it tough to finish. I could see how a lot of people would absolutely love this beer, but for me it's not hoppy and bitter enough...I'm not a big fan of the sweet and fruity flavoring. Also, it is the kind of beer that if I had it in a flight I would love, but the full bottle was too much of the strong, unappealing flavor for me.

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Photo of accordselux
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Amber colored with a decent and persistent head.

Smells of grapefruit and pineapple. The taste is similar- a sweetness of a combination of candied oranges and pineapple at first, followed by grapefruit of the hops. Finishes with a resiny bitterness.

Continual carbonation keeps the beer light on the tongue, and it has a good consistency.

Drinkability is not high for me. The bitter aftertaste makes it difficult to continue drinking. The alcohol is incredibly well masked, as well.

I've decided I prefer sweeter or more balanced DIPA's, such as Hopslam and Abrasive Ale.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle for $4 from Beer Run in C-ville.

Appearance: Bright and luminous orange, perfectly clear. Uneven white head with decent retention and a glassfull of spotty lacing. Very little to complain about here.

Smell: Big orange and pineapple here. Must have some amarillo in there. This sort of candy sweet citrus nose is the way I like my DIPAs. A little caramelly malt sweetness, a little detectable ethanol, and a tiny bit of fusel.

Taste: This is a beer with a great deal of bitterness, from start to long, bitter finish. The hops flavor being the juicy, fruity type, along with a well selected malt bill providing some residual sweetness "balances" things well. The alcohol is tasted in a good way and doesn't seem hot. I don't taste any fusel alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, slick, slightly creamy, sticky. It could do with a tiny bit more carbonation.

Drinkability: This is a damn good beer. Not sure why they feel the need to do 2 different DIPAs, but they've done 2 great ones. Thanks Bells.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to RBlaszak for sending this beer to me.

The beer pours a clear yellow-orange color with a white head. The aroma is very fruit and is outstanding. I get a lot of orange, pineapple and papaya, as well as some pine notes.

The flavor is just as great. It is dominated by pineapple, pine and papaya. I also get a little bit of caramel malt. The bitterness is about medium and not too intense. The beer is full of hop flavor, but the bitterness is restrained enough that the beer is still very drinkable.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A great Double IPA that I am very happy I got to try.

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Photo of samie85
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Pours a clear orangish amber with a two finger white head that dissipates quickly.

S-Smells pretty amazing... pineapple, sweet vanilla syrup, and some apricot with mango.

T-Fresh pineapple with some vanilla notes, pine and finishes with that pineapple after-taste you get from from fresh pineapple

M-Pretty smooth and medium bodied with prickly but low amount of carbonation.

D-Really easy drinking for almost 10.5%. The alcohol is absolutely nowhere to be found. I could see myself putting back a couple of these with no problem, but I'm sure the alcohol would catch up with me.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch # 9901.

I've been excited to try this one for a bit, so I was grateful when my buddy newtonty bought me one to try out. Served at fridge temp into an imperial pint.

Pours a pale brown with golden highlights. The head is foamy, sticky and about 1/4 inch. Great retention.

I get FRESH pineapple, lemon zest and oranges on the nose. The malt character is pretty hidden in there.

Wow, very nice flavor on this one. Moderately surprising sweetness with pineapples, pineapples and a few more pineapples... Did I mention pineapple?. This has quite a bold flavor profile... It jumps out at you. Very sweet and with a slight malt spiciness in the mix. Very assertive and enjoyable. Quite unique!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep orange color, like a sunset in your glass, ploughy head, chunky. Aroma was very sweet, tropical citrus and some alcohol warmth.

The first few sips come off wo much alcohol, possibly the most pineapple I've ever tasted in a beer, this one is far less piney and way more tropical citrus, mango, papaya and pineapple feel to it. One of these would be way cooler in a Corona on the beach commercial. Good amount of hops to it, but not a super crisp blast, enough to pair well with a 10.4 beer, thats for sure. Reminiscient of Odell's India Barleywine.

Should be interested to visit the rest of the 6 pack throughout the year. The three I've had thus far were all enjoyable, but the one I had on a weeknight was a little much to get down. This is a good beer to throw down at the end of a tasting session on a weekend, too dangerous during the week.

EDIT: Drink this back to back with Hopsoulution. Same beer almost, different strengths, makes the Oracle seem much lower in ABV when you drink it after a Hopsoulution.

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Photo of kbeals
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- 12 oz. bottle decanted into a pint glass unveils a bright, exceptionally clear copper colored brew. Two fingers of eggshell white head sit atop leaving behind thick sheets of lacing. Good head retention.

S- A mixture of floral and citrusy hops. There's even *gasp* a hint of caramel malts. Very strange for a DIPA. It's actually quite well balanced, and the alcohol doesn't really show up either.

T- Very well balanced also. Good mix of citrusy hops and caramel and toffee malts. I'm not really sure if it's supposed tob e balanced though. This is actually the most malt-centric DIPA I've ever had.

M- Smooth, good carbonation, medium body. A bit oily.

D- Pretty good. Gladly, the alcohol doesn't really show up and makes it an easy drinker. I think HopSlam is a better DIPA from Bell's, but this one is good in it's own way.

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Photo of plumcrazyfx
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm not a huge DIPA guy but this beer is awesome. If I could get this fresh and drink it a couple times a week I'd be a very happy guy. Pours a golden copper color with a nice head of tight bubbles that leave lacing all the way down the glass. Tastes wonderful, powerful mix of sweet malt and a floral bitterness that just coats the tongue. This is a very smooth beer with an almost creamy mouthfeel. Like I said, I would drink this all of the time if I could. It's not easy to find around here when it comes out but is worth searching for.

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Photo of king75
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-golden amber orange with a creamy full head

S- citrus and pine fill the nose

T- Is solid, nice pine bite at the front then a nice crisp citrus flavor that leaves a nice dry feel, with a slight puckering sensation.

Overall, a very good DIPA, but IMO it is over priced for what it is. There are other DIPA's equal in taste at half the price.

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Photo of 7ways
2.97/5  rDev -28.6%
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 adamette
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that I bought at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor, Oh last week for $2.99. Wally(the proprieter of the store)'s sister alerted me to it without my asking and it was behind the counter. They are very cool to me indeed! Poured into my Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass. Batch number 9901.

A Off white thick, creamy head that leaves great lacing on the inside of the glass over a glowing, golden caramel body. Really good look. 4.5

S Grapefruit tart, bitterness over a base of sweet, syrupy malt. The smell is everything that anyone would want a DIPA to be. It is interesting and inviting. It smells like a hell of a "big" beer! 4.0

T Yep, the taste flows directly from the smell. The grapefruit tart/bitterness over the sweet, syrupy malt with the bitterness lingering far longer than the sweetness. This is a good DIPA but I thought that Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster had more to offer in terms of DIPA. This one is a pleasure to taste none the less. 4.0

M As the smell suggested, this is one big beer! From the bigness of the hops bitterness to the huge malt sweetness and the 10%ABV there really is nothing small or thin about the feel of this beer. This is right in line with the style and in fact is a good example of the style's feel. 4.0

D This is simply not a highly drinkable beer. Pick your reason: 1.) ABV 2.) Hops bitterness 3.) Filling and huge malt sweetness and possibly 4.) cost. Despite all of that, I drank and enjoyed every drop! 3.0

Notes: Really glad to have the opportunity to try this one from Bell's! Also: my bottle lists the ABV as 10.0%

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Photo of Florida9
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Slightly hazy pale orange in color. Forms about 1/4" of sticky head with a hard pour. Leaves sheets of lacing.

S: Light whiff of sweet malt, then a host of hoppy flavors: orange, mango, citrus, and pine. Very aromatic.

T: A light honey sweetness followed by an appreciable hop bitterness. Mostly a strong pine flavor with grapefruit and citrus to a lesser extent.

M: Medium in body with appropriate carbonation. There is a noticeable bitterness.

D: A very good and quite enjoyable DIPA.

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Photo of Thur123
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a fairly even split IMO between red and orange. Definitely not bright in color but rich and somewhat hazy, very little carbonation but enough to make like fresh. Very little stale white head that fades into a ring quickly. The smell is very aromatic, and very sweet. The dent no hop spice from this and all a kind of sugary sweet smell. A very light citrus is the lightest hop scent with juicy oranges standing out. A mellow but full piney smell is here too but resting under the fruitiness it seems. Honey, floral aroma.

Glug glug glug

Much more bitter in the initial hit than anything in the aroma would have you think. Smacks down with a bitter resinous punch before "mellowing" into a balance between the bitter and the sweet. Fruit rind comes to mind in a big with something very literally like flowers, maybe jasmine, working its way around too. The sweetness is big and heavy and comes through as an almost bitter honey flavor from the malt. The mouth feel is a little thick but not nearly as thick as many and the drinkability, for me at least, is pretty good for something this big and heavy. The flavor is well rounded and complex, without dominating (too much) with any one aspect of the beer. Overall a class act in its category and certainly a unique example even.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Single bottle purchased, probably for a little more than I could have purchased elsewhere, oh well. I'm happy for the opportunity. Nice classic Bell's label.
Who is this Pythia and why is he/she all-knowing?
Really delightful aroma of fresh hops of sweet candy like fruitiness. Slowly settles into a fresh sweet citrus most close to grapefruit but lighter and less tart. Very nice. Eventually becomes less unique, but boy that initial aroma was awfully nice.
Nice dense off-white head. Ample action from the bottom of my SN tulip glass in an orange amber elixir.
Mmmm, smooth drink and the flavors are to be savored as they glide over the tongue. The finishing bitterness is ample and extended, but not excessive and not so tongue ripping as to prohibit enjoyment of the next taste.
Oh man, too bad, just a touch of the excess hop flavor I dislike so much.
Well this is certainly better than the proposed gases emitting from the earth leading to great prophesies. The well hidden alcohol inspires me. And I guess that is as it should be.

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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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