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: 2,712
Photo of boomer31
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bought a single bottle less than a week ago and it's been staring me down since.

A - Golden, a touch of haze but thick white head that just sticks to the glass.

S - Some tropical fruit hops but not over the top. Actually get some malt in the nose. Not what I was expecting

T - This is a compelex hop bomb! Up front is mango and grapefuit, then some grass and finally pine in the aftertaste. I really enjoy this's range of flavors is camparable to a very hormonal teenage girl, all over the place (but in a good way).

M - Pretty rich and full, low carb

D - WOW, don't taste the 10%+ here at all! For being such a hop bomb the malt bill is just right. Fantastic...almost too drinkable?!?!

Overall I really enjoy this. A must try for hop lovers. I didn't think I could score one of these but snatched it up and am wishing I grabbed more.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mikesgroove for this one.

A: Deep copper color with two fingers of white head after the pour. The head settling down had lacing. Really sticky lacing. Perfect pour for a DIPA.

S: The nose is nothing short of scrumtrilescent. Huge blast of citrus. Pineapple. Mango. Just an in your face hop blast. You do actually get a nice bit of malt as well.

T: Wow. Tons of citrus. Very west coast in nature. Pineapple is leading the charge. Has that sweetness that comes from an insane amount of hope and a big ABV beer. A little bit of booze is detectable but that is ok by me.

M: Mouthfeel is full and sticky. Creamy. It is everything you want in a DIPA.

D: I split the 12oz bottle and am regretting it already. This is going down in record time. Stupid drinkability for the ABV. It is expensive but it is also good. I would grab this when I was feeling saucy and needed a serious hop fix.

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into SA perfect pint.

A big shout out to cmswoboda for hooking me up with this generous extra.

A- Pours a nice copper with just a slight haze to it. About one finger worth of head that recedes slowly and leaves some nice lacing.

S- Some nice tropical hops and citrus. A pretty good amount of malt and a little bit of sweetness. A little bit of grassiness and a touch of orange rind.

T- Big piney hops burst onto your taste buds right away. Lots of hop oil just coat the tongue which dulls down the bitter. The malt is back there but it takes awhile to pick it up. There is a light grassiness like the nose on the tail end of the taste.

M- Medium to full body. It just seems to coat your tongue. Not too bitter but there is a touch of heat on the back of the throat.

D- Decent beer but nothing about it really stands out. It is not as in your face as some DIPA's. I think I prefer some of Bell's other offerings. Pretty average for drinkability, which is the story of this beer.

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Photo of Chaney
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At $20 per 4 pack, the expectations are pretty high for this one. However, I am going to be fair.

I poured this into a sniffer:

A: Very dark amber color, with moderate carbonation. The retention on this is absolutely stunning considering the ABV. After the session, my glass ended up looking like it had just gone through a car wash on max setting without a rinse.

S: When I initially smelled this brew, I didn't get a decent whiff because it was too cold...far too cold even. I waited about 5 minutes, then took a snort: Ahhhh. Very fresh hop smell - lots of orange, grapefruit, and even a bit of Candy bar-like sugar. After a few more whiffs, I started to notice pineapple poking through.

T: Almost a barleywine, but not quite. Whenever a beer has a very strong hop profile that transcends into the realm of licorice, that is when I start to think American Barleywine. However, this brew skates the edge of that doom very nicely, and rounds itself out with a nice orange pulp taste. Sugary? Yes!... Hoppy? Yes!.... Balanced? Nope, but that's the way I like it!

M: Sure the sugar is cloying, but since this is a "reserve" style "special edition" type of beer in which every drop is meant to be savored, I actually embrace that quality. A true model for this style!

D: I drank this brew during a movie with my wife. The entire time, I found myself in awe of it's flavor, hop profile (which is a tad reminicent of Two-Hearted), and about the brew itself as a sought after White Whale of a brew. Does it live up to the hype? Well, since I am one of the ones who helped hype it, I would say YES!

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Photo of jpmclaug
4.16/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a stemmed tulip. I got this bottle as an extra in trade with Romulux. You are awesome! Thanks.

A - Nice orange amber body with a white fluffy head on top. Lots of sticky lacing on the glass. I don't know if a DIPA could look any better than this.

S - Nice sweet citrus hop smell. Grapefruit and more citrus.

T - Grapefruit hop flavor up front. A bit of a piney lingering bitterness at the end. Wow. Certainly a much more bitter beast than Hopslam. This is a big grapefruit bomb made to rival the best the west could offer.

M - medium bodied with a fair amount of carbonation.

D - Pretty big hop presence so those that love a big bitter IPA would be right at home. I like my DIPA's a bit more on the balanced side or citrusy side personally. Hides the big ABV nicely however. This beer is worth picking up and trying. If I could get more I would however this isn't at the very top tier of IPA's imo.

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes on 9/8/10.

A: Pours a dark orange and gold, bordering on amber, into my snifter. A slight head vanishes immediately, leaving a spongy white film on top. The carbonation looks to be moving at a slow to medium pace. The lacing is thin and fine, like delicate handwriting with a quill and ink.

S: A load of citrus hops (mainly grapefruit) with a little bit of pine hop smell jump into my nose upfront, balanced by just enough of a caramel malt presence. I also smell a fair amount of dry biscuit and a little bit of coppery tap water.

T: Wow, that is dry, earthy hopticism. The citrus hop notes definitely shine through (although more orange than grapefruit), but this is definitely one of the drier hop profiles I have tasted in a DIPA. Like in the smell, the caramelized malts stand up to the hops, but only for a second in the middle of the sip. After that, the hops blow the face off of the malt. The aftertaste is almost the exact lasting flavor I have had on my tongue when I have eaten hops in the past.

M: Oracle is medium bodied, with a very puckering finish. The creaminess of the sweet malts graces my palate for a very short time before the bitter, earthy hops dry my palate and leave their flowery, alpha-acid goodness all over my tongue.

D: This guy is big and bitter, but that is a pleasant departure from a lot of other DIPAs that I have had. I definitely will consume more of this treat, but with some beers in between so that I can enjoy this beast anew.

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

Pours a golden orange color from a 12oz bottle into a Bell's snifter. A thin white head leaves a fair amount of lacing down the glass.

Citrus is dominant in the nose. Grapefruit, maybe some orange, backed up by hints of sweet caramel. The blast of citrus reminded me of the first time I had Hopslam, yet it is a different variety of citrus notes.

Taste backs up the scents. A lot of juicy citrus hops followed by a sweet malty backbone. A slight bitterness is present, but it is fairly well balanced.

Mouth feel is smooth with mild carbonation. The Oracle was a very drinkable DIPA for 10.4%. I probably wouldn't have guessed the ABV to be as high as it is. I have a couple more bottles of it and might have to try it side-by-side with Hopslam sometime to compare the two.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Biernutz for this one. Batch 9901. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Cantillon Iris glass.

A: Pours a 1 finger semi coarse, white head with decent retention. Beer is a clear orange that reveals ample carbonation. Lacing is thick and layered like a ruler measuring my sips. Great stick.

S: Very fragrant and exactly what I'd expect out of a powerful, DIPA. Strong brown sugar, pine, evergreen, resine, and citrus hops abound. This one's just a giant bouquet of flavor.

T: Sweet and rich upfront with notes of ruby red and other citrus fruits that are quickly taken over by piney hop bitterness that latches on and refuses to let go of my taste buds. This is one DELICIOUS ride. Hops just get more and more bitter as the experience goes on, elevating to enamel peeling levels just before the finish. Aftertaste is bitter and resiny and holds firmly to the inside of the cheek.

M: Medium bodied with ample carbonation. This one is a little too lively but at least it serves to aggravate the hop bitterness. Finish is messy and aftertaste lingers a long while.

D: Bell's seemingly can do no wrong in the IPA/DIPA department, Two Hearted, Hopslam, now Oracle, all are leaders in their style in my book. An amazingly well crafted beer.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a very slight hazy copper color with a thin white head. Head has good retention and covers the top of the brew. Leaves some very nice layered lacing.

S- Smells is sweet caramel malts, a bit of bread, spicy hops, citrus hops, piney, and a bit of sugar. Pretty complex but hops are here for sure.

T- Hops are everywhere here with a bit of malts in here too, but not much. Citrus hops are here orange and pineapple but the pine is everywhere.

M- Medium in body and nice carbonation.

D- Very easy to drink for sure. Alcohol is hidden nicely. I'd love to have a side by side with this and Hopslam. Excellent brew.

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Photo of SuperNova777
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Notes from 08/29/10

A:Pours a hazy orange color with a fingers worth of fluffy white head leaving awesome lacing as it is drank down

S:Big grapefruit, tangerine, & floral hop aroma. Very inviting and exciting, maybe a
little hint of honey in there as well

T:Just as the nose detects loads of awesome hops attack the senses then fall back
leaving a nice oily resin on the palate begging for another hit of the intenseness

M:Very nice body for easy drinkability with good carbonation

D:How I wish this was available all the time to make up for my Hopslam desires through
out the year. Big hop profile, easy to drink for being 10%, and crazy good all around.
Hops expolding in your mouth like a bomb in the middle east, next stop is the arrival
of Hopslam this winter.

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Photo of xnicknj
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thanks to biglobo8971 for this sweet extra - 12 oz bottle poured into tulip glass

A - Somewhat hazed golden orange. A smaller head fades to a filmy layer with a smaller amount of streaky lacing.

S - Slightly sweet bitter hops and a dash of fruit with malty caramel.

T - Plenty of bitter, juicy hops which explode onto the palate. A somewhat sweeter fruit center dotted with honey peeks through before the malt backbone rises up, delivering a different, darker sweetness. The hops return during the finish with more popping bite, along with a touch of alcohol.

M - Medium bodied, slightly creamy, avoids becoming too dry while remaining balanced.

D - For a boozier DIPA, this goes down way easier than some of its contemporaries.

Superbly delicious beer, I just wish there was a bit more excitement in the nose.

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Photo of aasher
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured this one into a New Belgium snifter. It poured auburn in color with a one inch white head and good carbonation. The smell was strong of floral hoppyness, similar to that of a wet hopped beer. The taste was pretty stellar. It wasn't too heavy in any particular direction. It had a nice balance of hops, sweetness, bitterness, and alcohol. It drank very well and much smoother than I expected. It smells more of the 10.4% than it tastes. Overall I'd say this is definitely worth trying. I tried an Arctic Panzerwolf yesterday and I actually liked this one more, if that provides a good enough comparison.

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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 Pencible
4.79/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: This poured a clear dark gold with moderate light tan head.
S: It smelled like mango and pineapple with some grapefruit and honey, and a bit of peppercorn.
T: It tasted like sugary sweet honeydew melon and mango, with pineapple and grapefruit. The aftertaste started sweet, then became very bitter and lasting.
M: It was slick and oily with moderate carbonation.
D: This was a phenomenal IPA with wonderful tropical scent and taste, along with a smooth body. The alcohol was hidden very well also, so it was too easy to drink. But delightful to sip and savor. Instantly one of my favorite IPAs ever. Boo yah!

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Photo of Randalld
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Murky golden orange. Good carbonation. Half finger head that thins into a nice bubbly film. Small islands of lacing around the class.

S- Honey, mango, pineapple, apricot's, oranges, pine cones, grapefruits.

T- Lot's of complexity here. Starts out with an assortment of tropical fruits. Pineapple, bittersweet grapefruits, orange zest, fresh hops, mango, honey.

M- Medium bodied with good carbonation.

D-This is really a fantastic DIPA. Top five in my book. For having 10% alcohol it's scary how easy this beer goes down.

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Photo of DoctorDog
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz. bottle into a nonic. "9901" stamped on back label. Thanks to Franz4 for snapping one of these up for me.

A- Amber, and slightly hazy. Pours with ~1 1/2 fingers of light tan head, which fades gradually to a thin cap.

S- Pineapple and citrus hop aroma with a backing of sweet malty notes.

T- Piney / grapefruit bitterness hop-wallop. Quite a resinous, coating, lingering bitterness. Solid malt sweetness provides a semblance of balance.

M- Moderate carbonation, with a medium-full feel. Slightly syrupy.

D- Good. If you enjoy the occasional hop-assault, it's solidly pleasing on all fronts, and despite the steep ABV, drinks fairly easy.

Future outlook: It might not be Hopslam, but another Bell's limited seasonal that I'd be happy to have again when available.

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Photo of thetomG
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Above average appearance (but a little more clear than I prefer) - orangeish color, very nice ring of dense foam left around the glass after the initial head diminishes leaving behind a ton of sticky lacing. . Nice piney hop-filled aroma with a slight hint of citrusy fruit. Flavor is a good blend of bitter hop and malty flavors that try (but fail) to balance things out - the bitterness clearly wins out here, which takes away from the drinkability.

Good beer, but given the limited availability and my preference for other more readily available DIPAs, I'm not too likely to seek this one out all too often.

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Photo of InsolublePancake
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 Mdog
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear amber, good head.

Smell: Lots of citrus, some sweetness in there too.

Taste: Surprisingly balanced, moderate sweetness like sugar on pink grapefruit before a long lasting bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Coating, slick feel.

Drinkability: Hard to find, expensive, but tasty so I might return to this someday.

Picked up a single as the beer store was rationing them. Not as good as Hopslam and a more coating feel than that beer. A more lasting bitter finish than Hopslam. Very good stuff.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.67/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was really a monster - fantastic DIPA that absolutely dominated the 2XIPA from Southern Tier I tasted it against. Pours a deep amber color with a solid head on top. Aromas and flavors are surprisingly well balanced - nothing thin or one-sided here. Big fruity hops go along with a very noticeably caramel molasses bready malt flavor. This one was just a big, full beer. As close to liquid bread as an IPA gets. Phenomenal.

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

Took some time off from drinking... great welcome back; The Oracle. Hopefully saw something good in my future!

A - Poured very nice amber color. Nice one finger off white head with nice lacing on the glass. Slight haze to it. Very good looking beer.

S - Very hopped up smell. Nice citrus notes, with pineapple standing out the most. Some pine hints mixed with caramel at the end.

T - Great flavors that contrast but balance each other out very well. Lots of hops upfront. Big bitterness with the pine and citrus flavors. Quickly turns sweet though with caramel malts. Bitterness lingers a bit, but malts help mellow out at the end.

M - Lighter body. Moderate carbonation. With the bitterness upfront still goes down smooth. Get some alcohol taste as it goes down the more it warms.

D - Couldn't wait to try this big DIPA. Didn't let me down. Wasn't really my favorite DIPA out there, as I can think of 3 or 4 that are better. However the contrast of flavors is done very well. Gives you an interesting and satisfying drink!

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Photo of Ek0nomik
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured In: Snifter
Purchased At: Steve's (Madison, WI)
Batch 9901 (August 23, 2010)

Appearance: The pour is an amber and burnt orange with not even a finger of head produced. The high alcohol is likely the culprit of the low head. A few swirls in the glass reveals small dots of lace across the glass; there's no thick sheets from the sticky malt. Again, I think I know the culprit. The beer is slightly effervescent, and what do you know, the little head there was has found a better home.

Smell: Alcohol shines through on the nose quite noticeably, but to be honest I'm not finding it unpleasant. Tonight I'm in the mood for something a little stronger. Working in IT puts strain on the body! ;) Sticky caramel malt is definitely there, but the alcohol and hops blast through. The hops bring in grass, grapefruit and orange peel.

Taste: Alcohol and some darker caramel malt start things off. The malt is a bit more dark on the palate than I was expecting, but, as luck would have it, the malt doesn't last long. The abundance of hops start to pull their weight, both in bitterness and in flavor. They bring herbal flavors like grass and pine, and then finish the tasting off with more grapefruit and orange.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation was pretty damn close to being perfect, I did let it sit for a brief period to let some of the carbonation die down. The body is medium to full.

Drinkability: This really is a fantastic beer, but, *but*, after having so many different IPA's and IIPA's, I feel like it does get lost in the mix. I love Bell's, and I'm glad they added another IPA to their collection, but there are many beers like it. Nonetheless, this will end up in my crate again because let's face it, an IIPA is just what you need sometimes.

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

Pours a dark amber color with a quarter finger cream colored head. A good amount of lacing sticks on the side from agitation.

The smell shows plenty of tropical hoppy fruits such as pineapple and mango with some orange as well.

There are all kinds of fruits in the taste; Orange, lemon, grapefruit, mango, pineapple. The end of the taste shows some piney bitterness. There is also a barrel aged like mellowness on the tongue.

The mouthfeel has a full and heavy feel to it with minimum carbonation. It feels almost like there is some mercury weighting the mouthfeel on the tongue.

The bitterness and mouthfeel are the only clues that this is a heavy hitter. With Hopslam and The Oracle, it is clearly seen that Bell's makes some of the best DIPA's around.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A_Pours a slightly hazy,golden/amber color with a thick, sticky white head.Lots of lacing.

S_Citrus bomb. Grapefruit,pineapple,piny hops.Some alcohol heat.

T_Follows the nos. Intense citrus. Lots of pine. Lots of spruce in the finish.Alcohol burn. Awesome beer.

M_Thick,sticks to your lips. I cant stop lip smacking. So delicious.

D_Very drinkable for such a bad ass beer. Two or three and you're well on your way.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, Batch 9901 (Bottled on 8/23/2010). Served in a snifter, the beer pours an amber/orange color with an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is mostly citrusy (orange/grapefruit/tropical fruit) and pine hops, along with a little bit of bready malt. Taste is pretty much the same as the aroma, the citrusy hops flavors are the strongest, but the pine hops and bready malt flavors are noticable too. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy, oily and slick with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is very good, it's quite smooth and goes down easy. I think this is a good overall brew, I'd definitely buy this again.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,712 ratings.
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