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The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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The OracleThe Oracle
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
2,724 Ratings
The OracleThe Oracle
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States
bellsbeer.com

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,387
Reviews:
787
Ratings:
2,724
pDev:
10.58%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
452
Gots:
418
Trade:
7
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,724 |  Reviews: 787
Photo of Filabee
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of atpca
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of sludgegnome
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of flyersfan900
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of kojevergas
3.26/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: 12 fl oz. Brown glass. Appealing classy label art. Branded pry-off pressure cap.

Brewed 08/08/14 - well within Bell's 6 month timeframe. Expectations are high; this is currently #20 on the Top 50 Michigan list. 10% ABV. Served cold into a Jester King goblet. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated. Reviewed live as a DIPA per the label.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: One finger wide. White colour. Nice creaminess. Good frothiness. Nice thickness. Has an appealing smooth, even consistency and a soft complexion. Leaves light consistent lacing on the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Retention: average - about 2 minutes.

BODY: Murky orange-copper of average vibrance. Translucent and glowing. Nontransparent. Clean; no yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's a nice looking imperial IPA but isn't unique or special.

AROMA: Fruity. Peach, apricot, ripened fruit, pale malts, floral hop character, more tropical pineapple hop character (a note I've never liked in beer), citrusy zest, and some tropical mango. Hints of grapefruit are present, but I don't get grapefruit's signature dominance or punch. Tangerine. A kiss of pine. Grassiness. Caramalts. Mild resinous character.

Overall, it's a fresh ripe fruity aroma with plenty of interesting hop character, but it could be juicier, and the tropical leanings have me worried...I usually prefer a more citrusy, piney, resinous hop character. Nevertheless, it's pleasant and inviting. Above average in strength, with no overt booziness. Critically, the hop bitterness seems well tamed by the pale malts. I hope the taste is as balanced as the aroma.

No yeast character or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Loads of hop character: floral hops, some pine, tangerine citrus and accompanying zest, mango, peach, boozy orange, and hints of grapefruit. To balance the bitterness from all those hops, it employs a bit too much caramalt, which makes it overly sweet and lends it a boozy undercurrent. The pale malt foundation gets lost in the mix. I do pick up on the dreaded pineapple hop note, unfortunately. I'd like a juicier more resinous and more citrusy hop emphasis, but this isn't bad.

While I do find it fundamentally imbalanced, I think it's decently built. Nice depth of flavour. Average flavour duration and intensity for the style. It boasts plenty of complexity, but it's not enough to truly compete the big dogs in the style. And there isn't much nuance or subtlety here; it commits to a lot of big flavours without regard for fine-tuning or intricacy.

MOUTHFEEL: Smooth, wet, creamy, soft enough, and fairly refreshing. But the booziness holds it back, and it does have a thick heavy feel on the palate, with a somewhat overbearing presence. Full-bodied. Coating.

Overall, the warmth of the mouthfeel coupled with the tropical fruit from the taste lends this brew a booze-soaked fruit vibe which isn't all that pleasant. This texture is a decent companion to the taste, but fails to elevate the beer.

Overcarbonated.

Not oily, gushed, hot, astringent, harsh, or rough.

OVERALL: It's too boozy to be all that drinkable, but I'll enjoy working my way through it. With a myriad of superior beers in the style available on shelves, I wouldn't pick up The Oracle again, but I'm glad I tried it once. Bell's own Hopslam is a much better (and even more balanced) brew, and this veers too far into tropical hop territory for my personal tastes. The boozy pineapple really turns me off to this, and the overdone caramalt sweetness is equally problematic.

Huge thanks to Duff27 for the bottle!

High C+

 3,651 characters

Photo of Karnivool1
3.26/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Don't get the hype on this one. I don't find much balance on this one at all. Just a boozy hop bomb. Lingering bitterness at the end. It smells great, and looks good, but an overload of pine and grapefruit. Glad I got a single bottle only.

 244 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.26/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle thanks to Rusty Diamond, appreciate it! I split this with two friends and they both liked it and said it was good whereas I was disappointed. Nice orange color, smells liek a lot of hops alcohol and malt but very muddled. I almost wish I knew how old this beer was. The taste was like a very malty DIPA, I guess I was expecting something closer to Hopslam. Overall, I would take Hopslam over this beer every single time. In fact, I'm not sure why they felt the need to brew this since hopslam is so damn good.

 521 characters

Photo of seedsofchaos
3.27/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle courtesy of Hap drank on a bright early Spring day (February 13th, 2011).

Bright honey orange meet golden. A billowing, almost beligian-esque head crowns the Oracle. Head is brilliant white, almost bleach white and made up entirely of tight carbonation bubbles. Lacing plays all the way down. Straight from cellar temperature the aroma is a bit strange. A touch of malt sweetness but mostly piney hops and then a vegetative cooked corn smell. DMS? I don't think lager yeast was used here... Curious to where this smell is coming from. As the beer warms to room temperature, this DIPA gets strangely better. Citrus hops come out and it becomes much more peachy. Malts into the realm of DIPAs on my palette now. Bready. Biscuity. The Oracle fails to impress.

This seasonal from Bell's is, perhaps, like other seasonals: only great for a few weeks, good for several months and then just mediocre afterward. I will have to try to obtain this fresh next year as this bottle was not filled with the flavors I would expect from Bell's.

 1,043 characters

Photo of GoGators
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of bevoduz
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%

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.

 1,004 characters

Photo of number1bum
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Big thanks go out to mymrnngjckt for this treat. You are very kind, sir.

Pours a slightly hazed burnt orange color with a dense two inches of light beige head.

Smell is full of resiny, oily, sticky pine and grapefruity hops, with juicy citrus as well as a bitter pithy quality. It's very fresh and floral, and I love the juiciness of the hops. There is a honey-like sweetness here too. Some alcohol does start to creep in as it warms.

Taste starts off...boozy as hell. Holy shit. And then comes the hop bitterness, which is substantial. I feel like I blinked and the hop flavor passed me by. Where is all the juicy, floral, resiny goodness from the nose? I do get some resiny pine, earthy and herbal flavor and some very bitter grapefruit pith, but the bitterness is absolutely immense and the hot alcohol just throws it entirely out of balance. The juicy, sweet citrus never has a chance to come through. It's a hop bomb, and worse, it's a boozy hop bomb.

Mouthfeel is quite oily and slick, and if it weren't for the immense bitterness and hot alcohol I think this one would be very nice on the palate.

I'm very disappointed by this brew, and I think it certainly fits the bill as a hype beer that just did not deliver. The best DIPAs in my book stress hop flavor over bitterness and have enough malt backbone to complement, even if they don't truly balance, the hops. I'm not a huge fans of unabated hop bombs, but I can enjoy one of those every once in awhile as well. This, however, is not only a hop bomb but a totally unbalanced, boozy hop bomb. That's a deadly combination and does not result in a pleasant, drinkable brew. Once is enough.

 1,652 characters

Photo of IckyT2012
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of levifunk
3.29/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

shared by klikger. reviewed from notes taken a while back.

a - cloudy red/orange. good size off-white head.

s - faint, almost non-existing nose. barely picking up citrus hops.

t - sweet malts. while there is a bitter finish, there is little actual hops flavor. Quite a bit of booze, but at 10% and fresh, its expected.

overall - somewhat of a disappointment. i won't be seeking this out as there are great DIPA for far less money.

 434 characters

Photo of PDXHops
3.34/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan011235 for this 12 ounce bottled, poured into a Duvel tulip (note- this was fresh, back in September 2010). Hazy amber body with a frothy off-white head, the retention of which is pretty impressive considering the ABV. A thick ring of lacing up top, with drippy streaks down below.

The nose is richly malty with plenty of citrus and especially pine fighting through the caramel. The flavor is more or less the same story. There's certainly no shortage of bitterness, and the pine simmers steadily, but all the hoppy goodness is somewhat blunted by the malt. Some citrus juiciness approaching the swallow. Medium-thick bodied, with the booze showing up basically in the finish only. Very impressive job of controlling the booziness and sweetness at this ABV. Tantalizingly close to excellence, but simply too malty to merit bumping up to the next tier of DIPAs.

 875 characters

Photo of nathanmiller
3.35/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Badger311
3.35/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Hop_Swig
3.36/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This is a well-made beer, but the flavor is centered on the front of the tongue and booziness overwhelms hop profile.

117 characters

Photo of Jimmys
3.36/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with a 07/26/16 date on the back label. I hope this is a bottled on.

pours very hazy with an impressive off-white head. aroma is very hoppy, but nothing super distinctive. flavor is largely pine and resin driven with a lot of alcohol to boot. if I had to guess this is just a larger version of Two Hearted without the tact, but that is a shot in the dark.
overall, this isn't worth the steep pricetag when these guys are making the aforementioned Two Hearted and their hop beast, Hopslam. I'm a bit letdown, but glad I tried.

 540 characters

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

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

 212 characters

Photo of Rammed96
3.37/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of oline73
3.37/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at the Eccentric Cafe as a part of my sampler.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber color with a finger of off white head. This beer has amazing head retention with a solid layer of head remaining throughout the pour.

Smell: Really mild, which I would not expect from a 10 percent double IPA. Some malt and mild citrus hops. I expected more.

Taste: Better than the smell. Bitter citrus peel hops throughout. Some malt, but it is overwhelmed by the bitterness. The finish is really bitter.

Mouthfeel: The body is a bit thick with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Really bitter. I expected more body given the abv. I probably won't have another given all the other DIPA options.

 708 characters

Photo of Juan611
3.38/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Got this bad boy as an extra from in person trade. Have to say I was stoked. Being from SoCal, I have to say my taste is jaded. I love that piney, resin bite on the tongue but the strong malt presence is a bit of a let down. Pretty decent DIPA though.

 251 characters

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.38/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I dedicate this review, and all future Bell's reviews, to super-tasters from Kalamazoo and beyond.

A - It pours an ultra-deep hue of amber and has a large frothy caramel colored head.

S - It smells of alcohol, grassiness, vegetal, and perhaps catty and/or onion-y.

T - The bitterness is sufficient to overwhelm a significantly big maltiness. It seems mostly astringent and somewhat piney, as far as flavor goes. Not fantastic due to a lack of dynamic hop impression.

M - Big and sticky.

D - I don't care for this big crass beast of a beer. It is not terrible by any means, but it doesn't do it for me in any way either.

 624 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
3.39/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Cyclone8 for this one! Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into an Upland pint glass.

A: Pours quite hazy, bronze-ish gold, with a half-finger of white head and an average amount of small bubble visible carbonation.

S: Pine, caramel and biscuit malt sweetness, and bitter citrus. Not a huge aroma for a DIPA.

T: Caramel malts, a lot of bitterness, some pine and the bitterest of citrus rind hops, and quite a bit of boozy alcohol. As it warms, the booze and bitterness increases up front, then fades into some malt with caramel sweetness.

M: Medium body with quite a bit of carbonation sensation. The alcohol it quite noticeable, but nothing like DFH 120 Minutes.

O: This embodies a lot of the characteristics I don't like in a DIPA. Big alcohol flavor, caramel, and bitterness without the underlying hop flavors to keep me interested. While not a drain-pour, this isn't anything that I'll go back to.

 927 characters

The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 2,724 ratings
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