The Oracle | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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The OracleThe Oracle
The OracleThe Oracle

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: American 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.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 815 | Ratings: 2,831
Photo of throwthechaff
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to have got my hands on a 12oz bottle of this double ipa. Easily the best Michigan double ipa that I have had (unless you count hopslam, which will reign supreme and insanely expensive). It has more of a citrus aroma and taste to it compared to the two hearted ipa and reminds me more of the crooked tree (which i prefer). Totally recommended if you can get your hands on one.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 ounce bottle - batch # 9306. Poured into my nonic Imperial pint glass. The IIPA appears a hazed rich apricot color with about an inch of dense light rust colored head. The head leaves a thin lace on the inside of my glass with each sip. Nose and flavor consist of white grapefruit juice, some resinous pine, mild hints of tropical fruit such as pineapple, herbal, caramelized malt notes, but not as sweet as I was expecting. Finish is quite dry and bitter, with the alcohol coming through as it warms. Tasty stuff.

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

Batch 9306

Poured into my wide mouth stemmed chalice (Abbaye du Val-Dieu) a chill hazed glowing orangish bronze with a 1/2" off-white creamy head. Very minimal visible carbonation uprising. Nice clinging smatterings of globs & lace all the way down.

You can smell this liquid as soon as you pop the cap from 3 ft. Drawing my nose over the rim of my glass I get a big dose of bursting hop aromas bathed in creamy caramel with a dash of nose tingling alcohol. Tropical fruit laden broth oozing with pineapple & apricot. A smidge of vanilla nougat and a pinch of citrus zest. All of these aforementioned scents are FRESH!

Oh la la - very pungent hop attack as soon as my tongue is dampened by this piney potion. The tropical fruit sweetness so strongly detected in the nose is reversed into an ultra dry and chalky hop bombardment at first quaff. A couple more sips tell a clearer tale of masterful layers of zesty, bitter, rindy and resinous hop complexity. The hop flavors are a swirling vortex of tongue-curling goodness that settle into a deep satisifaction and pleasure only a well crafted DIPA can deliver. I feel a slight warming in my chest after half of my bottle is consumed, although no alcohol taste is detected.

Mouthfeel is between med.- full with a slick & oily feel that is underpinned by a kinetic, ultra fine carbonation. Long and lingering prickly hoppy finish with a gentle malty softness.

Drinkability is very good. If I weren't driving or had any major responsibilites, I'd put a few of these away with a glossy grin.

Overall a very tasty, well-crafted and satisfying DIPA that delivers in all the categories. This is a very special ale that has now begun its superior legacy.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Kyle for tossing me a couple of these bad boys. Served in my Kuhnhenn tulip. Batch 9306.

A - Pours with three fingers of late-rising light orange/blonde foam. Retention is very good, and there is plenty of curtain-like lacing left behind. Slightly hazed, but still mostly transparent golden orange color that has a nice glow to it. Everything looks extra good in this glass, but this has everything I could ask for from a DIPA in look.

S - A huge amount of tropical fruit flavor - pineapple, mango, mandarin orange - as well a touch of pine and zestiness. There's a nice light malt backbone of dough and candy sugar that imparts some sweetness but tastefully stays in the background. As it warms there is some of the peachy and dank Simcoe flavor that crops up. Awesome, but doesn't explode out of the bottle like some other IPAs and DIPAs.

T - Starts sweet with more of the peachy Simcoe flavor, and exudes more caramel malt and grain character than I expected. I wish there was more of the tropical flavors - they show up mid-palate but are quickly wiped out by some fairly intense bitterness. There's some stronger pine elements that persist along with the bitterness well into the aftertaste. Not as palate-wrecking as I thought it would be. I don't like the flavor quite as much as the smell, it's more like a 4.25.

M - The feel is superb. Medium-thick body, with velvet smoothness, low carbonation that only slightly tingles up the upper lip if you take a protracted swig, and a slight warming finish.

D - The bottle went way faster than I thought it would, and the bitterness dissipates relatively quick. I can feel some alcohol heat building, and this isn't so mind-blowing that I'd be willing to subject myself to cold sweats, pounding headaches, and intense vomiting for just another glass (like PtY).

I'm really glad Larry listened and revisited the Big Head recipe. This doesn't taste quite as good but the alcohol is a little better hidden. In any case, I hope he keeps putting out a summer DIPA for all of us hop junkies who find the year wait for Hopslam to be too much.

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Photo of callmemickey
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cracked open a bottle of the Oracle for the start of football season today. Go Eagles! Thanks to iii9ix3 for the trade.

A: Hazy burnt orange-amber body. Thick creamy off-white head which quickly receded to a nice skim. Sheet like lacing up and down the glass.

S: Dank, pine and grapefruit centered hops. Pungent and inviting. Could smell the hops from arms-length when I popped the bottle cap off. Sweet candi-malts do not hide themselves.

T: Refreshingly bitter. The hops in this brew are incredibly fresh and concentrated. The grapefruit-citrus notes take the forefront as the pine and floral notes pick up towards the back of each sip. The phenomenal element of this beer is the massive malt taste which manages to not detract from the hops one bit, but instead, serves them up on silver platter to be savored. I think this is what every "balanced" east coast double IPA would like to be. Massive, yet refined.

M: Smooth. Medium bodied. Nice carbonation levels out of the bottle. The finish has a nice bite and is very crisp. The bitterness lingers on the tongue as it is quite resinous.

D: Superb. A little thicker than most dIPAs of this caliber and the ABV feels somewhat high. Otherwise it would easily be a 5.

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Photo of BMoney575
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 9-12-09
Batch 9306
Bottled on 8-28-09

Pours a hazy orange/amber color, with a filmy but pleasant white head and world-class lacing.

Smell is all super-sweet hops, extremely sweat-sock. Smells remarkably like a slightly aged Hopslam.

Taste is all gigantic hops, slick, sweet, flavors of citrus and honey. The finish is hugely bitter, with an unexpected malty kick. The booze is there too, and adds a sharpness as well as warmth.

Mouthfeel is spot-on, super thick to go with the strong hops and alcohol.

Drinkability is good, but it is an intense experience.

Overall, I fail to see where this fits in Bell's lineup. It 90% of a Hopslam, but not as good.

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to lurchingbeast for grabbing me some of this on his trip to Bell's and for driving to meet me at my place for the trade! 12oz bottle from batch 9306.

A: Pours a golden yellow color with maybe a little orange tint. A one finger amount of white bubbles forms and settles down to a white rim and small film that laces a little on the way down.

S: Smells like lots of hoppy citrus, grapefruit and pine. There's also a good amount of candi sugar type sweet malt in the nose as well.

T: Very similar to the smell - the hops, citrus, grapefruit and pine are definitely destroying the sweet candi malt in the balance department. The hops and big bitter finish dominate the flavor.

M: Nicely carbonated with a good amount of bite from the bubbles. Very full bodied and palate coating, almost syrupy.

D: The flavor is great, but there is just a little too much bitterness in this for me. If that could be toned down - and I'm thinking maybe just sitting on a bottle for a month or two might do it and this would get bumped up significantly.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.89/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz poured into a goblet.

Hazy orangish amber with about a fingers worth of light tan foam that slowly falls to a veiled ring.

Strong aromas of citrus and tropical fruits. Grapefruit and pineapple with oranges and a good measure of pine sap. Faint fusel background that blends in with the other aromas. The abv let's itself be known without coming across as harsh or incendiary. Very inviting.

Very fruity then bitter upfront. The bitterness stays and seems to intensify throughout the tasting, while a nice backbone of malty sweetness accentuates the fruits while balancing out the extreme hop flavors. A dash of pepper in the back from the alcohol that melds with the ever present bitterness. Long dry finish that is strong on hops without any oils. There's plenty going on, but not too much. This beer has a perfect balance of flavors. Power and precision.

An almost creamy mouthfeel that is balanced by the drying bitterness and proper carbonation. The drinkability is dangerously high. I would drink more of this if it were not so strong and rare.

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Photo of alexgash
4.82/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. Batch 9306.

Slight haze in a tangerine body. Index finger of dense, creamy, light beige head. Great lacing. Nose is ablaze with outrageous hoppy goodness. Huge pineapple and tropical fruits mix with pine pitch, resin, and a citrus fruit salad. The hop aromas are so fresh and in your face that I can't stop huffing from this tulip glass! Crazy.

If the nose wasn't enough to meet my hophead cravings, then the taste puts it over the top. Intense herbal hop bitterness right off the bat. Pine and mint flavors follow, as sweetish tropical fruits trickle in, forming a solid malt base. Big pineapple and mango flavors crescendo before the hops takeover for good. Strong herbal, citrus, and pine notes completely stun the palate and numb the tongue. Some candied fruit sweetness resurfaces in the otherwise dry, bitter finish, but this is all about crazy fresh hop flavor and intense bitterness. Full-bodied with a creamy feel. As much as I love Hopslam and Big Head, this is the new king of Bell's growing DIPA line-up!

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Photo of midlifec
4.82/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received my one bottle allocation this evening on the way home from work.

Highlights for me:
Smell has strong citrus aromas, an opaque amber gold in color. I could taste tangerine and grapefruit. Lingering taste of grapefruit after swallowing; hides the alcohol extremely well. Did I mention the great smell?

The Oracle is a great addition to Bell's lineup and complements Hopslam. IMHO it is a world class DIPA that matches or exceeds the best West Coast DIPA's.

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

Grabbed a case at the general store while on vacation in MI. Perfect timing :)

A: nice amber color. pours a off white head with some wonderful lacing.

S: This beer smells so tasty. The fruity citrus smells from the hops are perfect. Some soft floral undertones. Would make a nice air freshener fragrance.

T: No too bitter. Actually the balance between the hops and the malt is damn near perfect. orange, tangerine and grapefruit blend to give a nice citrus flavor with a bit of a floral followup. Taste and smell are married perfectly.

M: med. bodied. not real heavy. nice slight sticky feeling.

D: Be careful. I drank this pretty easily. Not sure on the ABV but this stuff is like a good creeper... drink a few and bam!

One of the nicest of this style i have had. I put this up there with the Pliney in terms of quality.

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Photo of blakesell
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a case this weekend so had to sample a bottle today. Same batch as all the previous reviews poured into a Belgian cereal bowl style goblet.

Appearance- Beer pours an amber gold with a pillowy head of 1.5 finger foam with lace that clings to the sides. Foam lingers for about a minute and a half then dies down to a murk across the top.

Smell- Holy lupulins batman! This smells hoppier than anything I had at the brewery this weekend and they did have hopslam on tap. Just like hopslam this smells to be unbalanced towards the hop and I'm getting very little malt. Unlike hopslam, there's no added honey sweetness from that additive, and a but of our friend the Simcoe cat urine smell, not that they have a bad thing going with that. If I couldn't get Hopslam in OH, I would have picked up a case of that instead.

Taste- Where there is no underlying sweetness in the scent, there is an ample sweetness on the taste and a nice warming tongue blistering pine, and a little spruce type flavor. I have that hop schnapps feeling on my mouth afterward that makes me instantly wonder what the gravity on this thing is.

Mouthfeel- Mildly sticky, lightly warming, I don't think this is a 15% monster, but there is plenty of gravity here to get the job done. I also wouldn't say this is a cloying beer which also wins this one some extra points.

Drinkability- This is a nice drinking DIPA, but it's going to be difficult for me to go through the whole case with this one. Looks like I'll be attending some tastings and doing some sharing!

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Photo of heliosphann
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle picked up at the Eccentric Cafe. Batch 9306. Served in a pint glass while enjoying Labor Day at a friends house in Ann Arbor.

A: Finger of creamy marshmallow head which hangs around for some time. Pours like a radiant sunburst. There is plenty of active carbonation and lacing is superb for a DIPA.

S: Sweet crushed pineapple, mango, oranges and bouquet of other tropical fruits. Some piney hops round out the enticing aroma.

T: Juicy tropical fruit sweetness hits right off the bat. Followed by big resinous, tongue biting pine heavy hops. Now this is the freshness! Along with the 110 IBU bitter finish, I get a little bit of heat, but it's pretty insignificant considering the ABV.

M: Medium body. A little chewy, but in a good way. Carbonation is just right for a DIPA.

D: For a DIPA clocking in at over 10%, this is one drinkable brew. I could easily kill a few of these back-to-back.

Another fantastic creation by Larry Bell and co. Right up there with Big Head and Hopslam when at their peak. Speaking freshness, I think The Oracle might be a little too fresh? It'll be interesting in a month or two to see if the hops calm down some. That was the only thing holding me back from giving The Oracle a 5/5 for taste. Either way it's still an amazing brew. Word from Larry is we might see this distributed widely next year. I hope that's the case for all the hopheads out there!

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Photo of BigAl723
4.92/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thank you to Jerome1929 for hooking me up with Bell's The Oracle DIPA. He purchased a case last Friday the 4th and sold me a few bottles. I've really been looking forward to this!!!

A: Can you say Two Hearted on steroids?!? This baby is bright like a northern Michigan sun. Beautiful like a Hopslam/Two Hearted combo. The head is about 2 1/2 inches thick. Not to mention is leaves a great lacing that lingers until the last drop is gone.

S: Grapefruit, citrus, pine, not like an orange but it's really apple like. Towards the end pinnapple really comes through. This baby smells like fruit big time. Like a DIPA ready to explode.

A: Very bitter but easy drinking. This DIPA is so drinkable it's scary. Slightly different from Hopslam. It's a little bit more hoppy than Hopslam because its lack of honey. The Oracle is straight to the point. Hoppy, bitter, intense, serious, legit, etc. All of the above.

M: Medium to heavy carbonation. Medium in the motuh. Very smooth like a midwest IPA should be.

D: If you like IPA's this is one EASY drinking DIPA. I could probably drink a six pack with no problem. It drinks a lot like Two Hearted. An easy IPA to sip or chug.

Overall, The Oracle is outstanding. I'm so happy to get my hands on this DIPA before it's all sold out. Hopslam and The Oracle are the premier line up of DIPA's in the country. This is very tasty and very complex. Get your hands on this if you can but be may want to drink the whole six pack or case...whatever you may have.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A bright golden apricot with plenty of white head and great lacing as it goes down. Plenty of carbonation visible throughout.

S: It's like smelling heaven--citrus fruits abound alongside plenty of floral notes and a tad bit of pine. Citrus notes--particularly tangerine and a bit of bitter grapefruit--completely dominate this one, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

T: Much like the nose. The bitterness slaps your palate around, but it's one of the finest beatings you've ever taken. 110 IBU's of pure bliss; Pythia prophesied greatness, and greatness was found in a little shop in Kalamazoo. I'd like to talk about the malt, but I can't. The simple fact is that I can't taste it, and I don't mind at all. Larry Bell wanted deliver a West Coast DIPA, and that is exactly what happened. Hopalicious indeed.

M: Moderate carbonation on a light-medium body. I'd like to know more about the mouthfeel, but I can't help but swallow more and more. It's a hoppy assault on every bud in my mouth, but goes down so smoothly. Fantastic.

D: Phenomenal. Simply phenomenal. Pliny the Roman, meet Pythia and the Oracle of the Greeks. Which is better? It's not my place to say, but place either on my lips and I'll never want to stop drinking.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 2,831 ratings