Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
778 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 778 | Ratings: 2,679
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 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 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 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 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

3.4/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked up this brew at a bottle shop in DC. It was in Dupont Circle with my cousin. Good times.

A: Hazy burnt/dark shade of orange. Decent white head with lots of oil stickiness lacing the glass. Looks good.

S: sweet and fruity grapefruit nose with a mild pine grass quality in the background.

T: hot... very powerful IPA. got a lot of booze burn right away. Not smooth. Starts nice with some sweet citrus flavors, then a significant dry grasslike finish with a good dose of burn. There is some sweet malt character in here too, right in the middle. Overall its really not smooth and has a harsh finish. Too sharp. Needs to be more balanced. The finish is all dry hop flavors and alcohol. It sits for a while soaking up your saliva.

M: full oil like with a super dry booze finish. very dry on the end.
feels smooth at first, then finishes very very dry.

O: Just not feeling this one, I guess if your shooting for a more abrasive dry big american IPA style then it would be understandable. But this is just does not have the complexity, balance, and mouth-feel that I think great DIPA's has. Its not really bad, just not enough balance for me. Maybe its just me.

 1,169 characters

Photo of hopsbreath
3.41/5  rDev -18%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Twelve ounce bottle poured into a snifter at 8 o'clock in the morning after working all night at the hospital. Big thanks goes out to Thorpe429 for including one of Larry Bell's hoppiest as an extra!

After a moderately hard pour, about a finger and a half of ivory head formed atop the orange-gold anti-freeze tinged body. The head recedes quickly and no cap is left. Minimal lacing shows up as well.

Very sweet smell contains lychee candy, passion fruit, and pineapple.

Of course the tendency is to compare this to Hopslam, and through the power of suggestion, it is similar. The obvious difference between the two comes out here at the taste. Oracle isn't near as sweet and malty as Hopslam but is way more bitter and dank.

Mouthfeel is semi-thin for how big of a beer this calculates out to. It is however pretty oily due to then reckless use of hops.

How drinkable can a 10% DIPA palate destroying hop bomb be? It comes right down to "do I want another"? The answer is no. I'm glad I got the chance to try it, but won't be seeking it out again. Give this a try if the chance presents itself but don't go out of your way to track it down. Track down Hopslam instead come early next year.

 1,199 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.42/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy orange, with a finger of light white head that laces well. Hop haze and alcohol feet are evident. The aroma is a good one, with predominant citrus and slight bitterness, with a nice malty, caramel aroma. But the taste is lacking...balance. The flavors do not flow well, but are more jagged and spiking. Very bitter, and lingering, but the linger leaves a bad taste. The citrus is nice, but the alcohol chimes in with an unpleasant burst. As it warms it becomes more palatable, but the lingering aftertaste is still not very enjoyable. The feel is nice and smooth, slightly creamy, and on the upper end of light. Carbonation is nice. Drinkability is decent, and while tasty in areas, the balance is just not there for me to drink multiples. If the ABV was a bit less, or wasn't as noticeable, I think that would make a big difference.

 844 characters

Photo of chicano4craft
3.45/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark copper witha slight amber highlight in my tulip. Thick three finger head that sticks around for a long time. Amazing lacing to the end.

The nose is really balanced. It's a sweet citrus from the hops and malt. Reminds me of lemon bread.

The first sip is quite bitter. The balance in the nose doesn't show up. It's not the "good" bitter flavors you might expect from hops...grapefruit,citrus,resin. I think the alcohal has dulled down the flavor. A little disappointing.

The mouthfeel is decent but the high ABV brings down the drinkability. This was just an okay IIPA. I was hoping for a little more. I have a few more bottles and will revisit this soon. I feel my taste buds have been off a little lately.

 722 characters

Photo of codewarrior
3.45/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz from a trade into a Chalice (Bottle says 9901)

Picked this up in a trade with 7ways. Utterly disappointing (he warned me ...).

A: Deep amber. A finger or so of head, dissipates quickly, little to no lacing.

S: Hoppy and sweet. But more sweet than hoppy. Lots of fruits in this. Unexpected for a DIPA.

T: Sweet up front, in the severe, then massive hops in the back. Pineapple notes, and caramel in the middle. Lingering bitterness.

F: Creamy, heavier than expected.

D: Ok. Disappointing from Bell's, especially for a style from which I expect so much.

 562 characters

Photo of VTR
3.47/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I opened the bottle and started to pour. Before I could even see the beer in the glass the pine, grapefruit, resin notes all this my nose. Surely this can be a good sign because I enjoyed the scent while not being a huge IPA fan. First sip was a little harsh from maybe the alcohol or maybe the huge amount of hops, I don't know but it did get better on the second sip opening up with the pine and grapefruit. I read in one of the views below something to the effect of this is what hopslam wishes it was. Well I love Hopslam but found this hard to finish. The bitterness and to me lack of a big malt backbone made it somewhat not enjoyable. A few beers later the bitter taste was still lingering in my mouth. Some people will enjoy this IIPA but it was not for me.

 773 characters

Photo of Hoppity1
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one is a miss in my book. I love most Bells beer that I've had. This looked very good, smelled ok but the taste was a major letdown. All I got was piney bitter with hardly any change in the aftertaste. I like bitter, but I want it to go somewhere else from the initial taste through the aftertaste, and it didn't. It reminded me of 1492, the only TG beer that I didn't like.

 384 characters

Photo of claspada
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 8/12/11. Pours a nice clear deep amber/copper color with adequate soapy/bubbly eggshell head lacing nice sticky lacing.

Aromas are really pleasant but quite typical for the style. Lots of sticky pine and grapefruit resiny hops. Also getting some nice floral, earthy, vegetile hops as well; smells like Simcoe was used here in combination with Centennial hops. There is a nice sweet bready malt backbone with hints of caramel, almost toffee maltiness. Very east coast/mid-country DIPA. Alcohol becomes apparent as it warms to room temperature.

The tastes begin initially with a little sweet bready and light caramel maltiness but they are immediately overpowered by the pungent grapefruit, blood orange and resiny pine hops. As you further sample you get the earthy and floral, almost oniony hops flavors. Alcohol once again becomes apparent as it warms to room temperature.

The mouthfeel is quite full bodied with adequate carbonation for the style. The finish is sticky and resiny and the grapefruit and pine bitterness lingers on the palate, alcohol is also drying on the palate which invites you to sample more, which is dangerous when you have such a big ABV beer.

Overall this is a decent example of the style but not my favorite by a long shot. Too much in the grapefruit and pine hop department and not enough of the sweeter citrus or tropical fruit flavors. I could and would not want more than 1 or 2 of these in a sitting because of the apparent alcohol flavors that emerge and the rather generic intense hop bitterness and flavor profile. Worth a go if you can buy it by the single but a 6 pack is not for me.

 1,633 characters

Photo of OldManMetal
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

This is a great-looking beer: a giant, pebbly ivory-colored head looms atop a clear, effervescent, deep-gold beer, leaving excellent lacing in the form of thick, sticky bands and sheets; the only visual downside is how rapidly the head dissipates. The nose is delicious and enticing; medium in intensity, it leads with pineapple juice, backed by ruby grapefruit and sweet florals, hints of darker florals and modest alcohol overtones. Up front, the palate is grassy, medium-bitter pineapple and more subtle cotton-candy florals; mid-palate the pineapple gets juicy, the grassiness becomes more pronounced, a spicy floral flavor emerges, and we get a good view of the bready malt foundation. At the same time, a too-astringent mouthfeel develops, and a darkish bitter/sweet solvent character defiles the low end of the flavor as the booze does its damndest to run the whole train off the tracks. The finish is a warming whallop of bittersweet booze, followed by the onset of a modest, boozy pine bitterness that lasts for awhile. Mouthfeel is commensurate with the medium body, and is unpleasantly astringent; the texture is medium-creamy and slightly peppery from the somewhat restrained carbonation. Too hot to be enjoyable. (12 oz bottle, 42 days after pkg)

 1,259 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Although I had a bit of this one at a recent tasting, I believe that I forgot to review it. Having recently received a bottle as an extra in a trade, I figured the time was right.

First off, this doesn't remind me of a DIPA (at least in the West Coast sense of things with which I have grown accustomed), but rather an IPA with a bit too much sweetness.

Golden amber color with a decent white head. Big bubblegummy hops seem to dominate, then sweetness, before reaching a somewhat bitter finish. Not bad by any means, but Bell's has done better.

 547 characters

Photo of rhinos00
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to pecorasc for sharing this one. Poured into a wine glass. Bottled 08.29.09.

A- Pours a very dull amber. Semi-clear with a fingers width of white head...had a very soapy appearance. Some lacing as consumed.

S- Mix of citrus and tropical fruit with a sweet malt backbone. Decent amount of alcohol in there as well.

T- The high level of bitterness and alcohol really masked the nuances of this beer. Upfront bittering hop oil numb the palate. Following is mixture of sweet malts and mango, pineapples, oranges. Finished with a piney bitterness and a hefty amount alcohol.

M- Light to medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Some sticky residue was left on the palate.

D- This was only 10% abv? Felt more like 13% or so. Heavy hitter that was a little hard to put down because of the high bitterness and alcohol.

Overall, I know this isn't fresh, but even so, I think Bell's missed the mark with this one. I'm honestly quite surprised with the positive reviews...especially the most recent ones as those probably had a bit of age on them as well. I'll stick to Hopslam instead. This is just way too big of beer to be enjoyed.

 1,149 characters

Photo of WesMantooth
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%

Deep yellow pour with a huge white head that holds on for a long time. Hoppy - citrus aroma. Taste is grapefruit style citrus with a ton of hops and bitterness from the beginning till the end. Almost like a non coated pill that gets stuck on your tongue. A bunch of pine too. Very slick resiny feel to it. I know my rdev is going to be way off on this an I am in the minority, but for a DIPA, I find this to be very unbalanced and not real enjoyable. As an American IPA, it I would score differently. If you like an IBU slap to the face then go for it for sure. Bell's makes some great beers. They have always been hit or miss with me though. This one is a miss personally.

 673 characters

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.

 609 characters

The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,679 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!