The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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753 Reviews
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The OracleThe Oracle
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

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
Reviews:
753
Ratings:
2,604
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
19.66%
 
 
Wants:
451
Gots:
394
For Trade:
9
User Reviews
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Reviews: 753 | Ratings: 2,604
Photo of mrfrancis
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear, deep golden orange with a tight, creamy white head.

S: Aromas of pine, citrus, biscuits, brown sugar, and alcohol are present on the nose. This smells a little boozier than I would like.

T: Notes of brown sugar, biscuits, sage, pine, mint, bitter orange, kumquat, lemon, and grapefruit assault the palate. The finish is bitter and fruity with lemon, grapefruit, bitter orange, and alcohol notes.

M: Full-bodied and sticky. Carbonation is firm and prickly. There is a slight alcohol presence in the mouth, but it isn't too overbearing.

O: As is, this is a very solid American DIPA, but if the alcohol presence were masked a bit better, it would be truly outstanding.

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Photo of pagriley
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz, 4 weeks old, into a tulip

L - Pale hazy orange with a half inch head that dissipates into heavy lacing
S - a touch of citrus and pine, but not a lot going on
T - Subtle malt sweetness followed by a thump of harsh bitterness
M - medium to full bodied for a DIPA. Soft carb and smooth mouthfeel

Can't get over the lack of balance on this - I know it is supposed to be a big hard DIPA, but somehow the floral / fruity / pine characteristics have been stripped away to just leave a harsh bitterness right in your face. An interesting experiment certainly, but a jarring beer to drink

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.55/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

We crack a pair, pouring a brew of golden pumpkin orange into our Founders snifters, throwing faint amber hues when it catches a ray just right. It produces a quickly building three finger head of soapy tan colored bubbles, showing excellent retention. This creamy and goopy crown slowly bubbles away, leaving thick sheets of honeycomb lacing all around our glasses. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be on the lighter side of moderate. The aroma is both richly malty and sticky with hops, giving notes of sweet pale, lightly caramel, and rye maltiness, spiciness of booze, dried cucumber skin, and fresh ferns, and big hoppiness of nectary, lightly citric, and piney varietals. Complexity works in with warmth, riding on sweet vanilla extract, rubber tree, lactic warmth, lime juice, passion fruit, black pepper and far-off gingerbread breadiness, tannic leafy teas, soft bubblegum, perfumed florals, and sugary sweet hits of citric hop goodness. Our first impression is that the hops are quite bitter, mixing with the fusel nature of the booze for an explosively surprising beginning. As we sip, the taste opens with black pepper, lemon zest, metallic amber and pale malts, chemical rubber bite, bitterly herbal and sweetly nectary hops, sap resins, hints of honey sweetness, and sweet fusel alcohol. The middle peaks with red cherry sweetness, hibiscus and honeysuckle florals, whole black peppercorn, sesame seed, chalked yeast, freshly picked parsley, citric and herbal hops, light caramel sugars, and a bittered, steely rye type of maltiness. The end hits with cleaner pales, warm cornbread, drippy butters, vodka booze, plant greens, biting tree bark, mineral water, citric, grassy, and herbal hops, mango fruitiness, gravel, aluminum, eucalyptus, grape seeds, coconut husk, and water chestnuts. The aftertaste breathes of hugely fusel booze, piney hop resins, distant raisin sugars, pencil shavings, gravel, dirty yeast, black pepper, pseudo-woody astringency, black raspberry seediness, wet moss, nickel, and echoes of those bitter herbal hops. The body is full, and the carbonation is medium but subdued. Each sip gives nice cream and froth, decent slurp and smack, and clean finishing pop. The mouth is initially coated fully, but this quickly drips into intense boozy pucker and tannic astringency. The abv is up there for a 12oz. bottle, and it drinks as such.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was its nose. Really, all the aromatic goodness presented here came with warmth. It started a bit hot and overly malty, much like the flavoring, but it took a turn with warmth, where the hops were allowed to flourish into their natural, sticky, floral, and piney state. This gave a sweet air to it, helping to contrast nicely with the grain and the fusel booziness. We found the taste, however, to be a bit cumbersome. Here we found extreme hotness of ethanol, overly bittered hops, and biting, metallic yeast, mixing for a rather heavy puck and chalked astringent on the feel. This was not helped by the fact that the body was sturdy and thick, adding to the burden of drinking it. Perhaps it was the hype that killed this one for us, but unfortunately we found The Oracle to be overly boozed, deceptively unbalanced, and more of a chore than an absolute pleasure.

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Photo of Verecund
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 9901, bottled on 08.23.2010. Consumed on 10.14.2010.

Mango Tango (TM) with a lightly peach colored head. Thick, persistent head.

Nice tropical fruit, orange, and grapefruit presence in the nose, but it's a bit muted. It's as if, library-ridden, the hops have been told to be quiet by the sugary, biscuit malty backbone. I prefer some balance to my [I]IPAs, but I think this would be better fresher, with a pit more tropical-punch punch.

Dank herbal and floral hop bitterness hits the tongue, but is cut through by the light tropical notes (much less here than in the nose). The hop profile is a bit muddled, in my opinion, but that could be due to a) the age and b) the biscuity, grainy malt presence that's higher than the average DIPA. Some minor pepper on the finish.

Somewhat slick and oily. Fairly creamy until the end of the palate.

Not a palate destroyer, but it is as if someone took a plastic axe to my tongue after awhile, which just dulls the flavor more. A somewhat-fruity, somewhat-earthy/dank plastic axe.

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Photo of jooler
3.56/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Initial smell is of cigarettes and initial taste is sweet but extremely alcoholic. It is a good balance of hops an malts but the alcoholic boozy taste ruins it for me

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.57/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Deep shade of amber, golden accents. White head, gobs of sticky lacing. Looks quite a bit like a DIPA.

S: Mostly grains and a little alcohol. Fruity and piney hop notes linger below.

T: Hop profile is grassy and mostly piney, lacking citric brightness. Sugar coated everything, malts and grains are quite prominent. Alcohol presence is almost completly masked, impressive for an IPA tipping 10%.

M: Thick and chewy, fits the flavor profile well.

D: Not bad but abv and sweetness limits drinkability. Not my style of DIPA I suppose.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.58/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter at Beer Bistro North.

Finally getting to lay my tastebuds on this elusive DIPA. It pours a clear brass topped by a finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises grapefruit zest, pine needles, honey, and sickly-sweet caramel. The taste pretty much brings in more of the same, but now everything is more powerful: The grapefruit is heavier, the pine is sharper, the caramel is sweeter. It's all a bit much, especially when the sweetness and the pine mix together to form a mild menthol kind of character in the finish. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a thick feel. Overall, a solid DIPA, but one that seems to be too big for its own britches. I'd drink another, if only to figure out where the fanfare for this beer comes from, especially when a slightly more refined version can be more easily obtained (at least, in these parts) in the form of HopSlam.

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Photo of beerdedking
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%

Perhaps it was my much too high expectation of this that I was let down. I've had many examples of DIPAs, and The Oracle didn't live up to most.

The pour leaves me optimistic as it immediately appears like a glass of thick and chewy hops. Which it is. Brownish copper (like its label) in color with a two finger head, the hops come right at the nose, and I'm still thinking this will be awesome.
Ubiquitous hop flavors of pine and grapefruit are nice, but the bitterness kicks in too early before the hop complexity can get going.
Also this lacks the palate leveling quality of hop resin soaking into the taste buds. Bells, give us Hopslam twice/year, and take The Oracle back in for an overhaul...

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Photo of nick76
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The aroma is intensely hoppy with grass and citrus with caramel malt in the back seat. The appearance is amber with a head that's big for the style. Taste wise it's very much in line with the aroma. There is also a bit of astringency. The palate is very smooth. Overall a quality beer that just doesn't impress me as much as most people here.

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Photo of SirEbril
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle dated 7/10/15 so pushing the freshness envelope. Definitely a malty double IPA - tasty but Midwest in style (vs. West Coast) - hides the 10 very well and remains pretty balanced. Orange/tangerine hoppiness, bitter but complex enough to be pleasant.

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Photo of xraided81
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to match1112 for sending this as an extra, if you are ever looking for anything from the westcoast I will send it your way!

a: pours a bright golden color with copper highlights. persistent 1/2 inch white head.

smell: candied dried pineaples come to mind, crystal, caramelized malts in aroma

t: malty sweetness, grassy hops, earth greens, caramel, toffe

m: full bodied beer, persistent carbonation on the palate

o: Malt forward double ipa. hops seemed to be fading away from this beer. i mainly drink westcoast ipas, so its been great to experience ipas from different parts of the country

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Photo of craytonic
3.63/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Sun drenched honey-tangerine head. Nice head and lacing, I was looking forward to this after I got it open. Thoughts of Pliny came to mind.

Smell: Big hops, malt, grapefruit, pineapple, orange.

Taste: Big hops, with pineapple, grapefruit, orange, pine sap, etc all in play. Alcohol is there as well, they did not quite mask it.

Mouthfeel: Full, but not as smooth as I expected.

Drinkability: If I hadn't had Pliny the younger and elder, I would love this one.

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.64/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on 8/9/2013, reviewed from notes. Bell's lack of specific release dates is frustrating, because I had to make several dozen phone calls to find this guy a mere two hours from the brewery. My first experience with it four years ago was magical.

A - pretty good looking. Dark oranges and browns and little head produced on the forced pour. Mostly translucent.

S - the first thing that hits you is booze, then bitterness, followed by a faint, dank hop profile that signals a stickiness in taste and texture. Not altogether pleasant, but certainly not unpleasant.

T - too bitter, much too bitter. The sweet hop profile is lost almost completely to the bitter one, which, combined with a malt-forward finish, makes this beer taste almost like anise. The accompanying 10% ABV doesn't help things. There's hardly anything sweet here. It reminds me very much of Leviathan.

M - again, bitterness and booziness pervade. The lasting impression is a sticky booze bomb .

O - well, as with just about everything, the memory is better than the repeated experience. I wouldn't turn this down at a party of course, but I won't go out of my way or make any more phone calls for it. It would be interesting to sit on for a few months.

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Photo of Buebie
3.64/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of gford217

Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an oversized snifter. A rigorous pour has produced about an inch of off white head. Appearance is a murky dark golden orange with hints of amber.
Slick light lace drapes.

Aroma is very biscuit like, plenty of yeasty funk and pankcake aroma.
Mild leafy hops at the nose and no alcohol.

Taste is also bready with big amounts of buttered rolls, plenty of malt backing with a good grainy kick.
Spicy earthy hops, sweet flavors throughout. Pine resin with a bitter mouth puckering grapefruit rind flavor. Finishing with rind and melon flavors. Hops linger, as do some mild malty notes.

Mouthfeel is slick and full bodied with moderate carbonation.

For a dipa this seems to lack in hops at the nose. Hops deliver in taste. The heat that some mentioned is not noticeable to me at all and almost non existent. A good dipa, but nothing exceptionally outstanding.

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Photo of bobhits
3.64/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Orange/amber color, with a thick creamy eggshell white head (we're talking this could be used as a pillow), that leaves amazing amounts of lacing down the glass. As one would expect of a big DIPA, there isn't much bubbling action going on in the glass after the pour.

Sure hop resin full of citrus hops. There isn't a huge nose on this and the nose there truly is all hop and there's nothing wrong with that!

Opens with a caramel malt and quickly goes to a piney, grape fruity....just over powering hop flavor. A bit of alcohol in the finish and we're done.

Thick and creamy mouth. There isn't much carbonation and a good bite from the alcohol at the end. At 10% though this is thinner than i remember stone 10 year, hop slam, and some of the other big IIPA's.

This beer is going to end my desire for beer for the night, but it's darn good. That or in a few minutes from this review I'll be drinking a second one.

This isn't the flavor attacking beer I would have loved, but if this isn't just a darn good example of the style I don't know what is. That said I can think of 3-4 double IPA's I'd take over it off the top of my head. Though I think the way the malt balances this is rather unique and extremely good. There's plenty of reasons to seek this bad boy out.

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Photo of beagle75
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, medium amber color with one finger of off-white foam head. Heavy lacing remains and fine streams of bubbles rise at varied rates from the bottom and sides of the glass.

S: Overripe tropical fruit and coniferous foliage are classically joined in the smell, suggesting sweetness as well as powerful aromatics to come in the flavor. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins far off-dry, with a preemptive hit of booze that combines with caramel and fruity esters to create an illusion of spirituous brandy. Minerals are also present early, vitamin-like. Acidity is aggressive, influencing the taste but in a fairly positive way. The middle sees fruitiness persist, turning more citrusy thanks to the citric acid influences. Intense bitterness comes on strong before the finish, adhering to the palate with apparently no plans to depart. Malt is finally established into the finish, showing some crisp bready flavors that are obscured only by the ongoing medicinal bitter presence.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, very sticky on the palate showing a fiery alcohol burn, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: There is frequently a point in the development of a DIPA when the line gets crossed, where a well-intended project goes off the rails. This beer walks that line, and it is not clear to the drinker which side of the line it is on. It is best appreciated by the nose, with some of the suggested qualities showing up in the taste but in the presence of a whole handful of other, less appealing flavors. This is one of the most spirituous DIPAs encountered that manages to remain some kind of drinkable. It is intense, and that intensity does take a toll on the palate--due to the extreme bitterness as well as the often hot alcohol presence. While not endearing, it does offer the DIPA enthusiast a point of reference for the comparison of Bell's other hoppy beers.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a really cool lost abbey glass, The Oracle Dipa has a golden amber color with some glow, and a bit of hop haze. Head is sticky and lacy, but it has some large bubbles.

The aroma is too mild for a DIPA, as I expect a ton of hops in mine. While the aroma doesn't carry the most in-your-face hop punch, it's quite interesting. At first I was getting a candy character, like a grape or cherry jolly rancher. Now I'm getting candied orange minus any citric aroma. As it warms, more apricot comes through. I just wish this beer had more strength in the hops.

The taste is super bitter, with some pine flavor running along with it. I'm getting some burnt sugar, and I assume they use some sugar in the beer. Again, I'm getting that orange character without the citrusy aspect. This is a nice, burning, bitter tasting DIPA.

The mouthfeel is really nice, it feels like bitter, oily hop juice. There is a bit too much of an afterburn on the palate. This was a nice DIPA, and I'd like to try some more beers from this brewery.

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Photo of AshleyMiller
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

thanks to jmarsh123 for throwing in this great extra. poured into my stone cali-belgique tulip.

a- pours a darker, reddish amber with a two-finger head, and lots of lacing, good retention as well

s- a great mix of sweet and grapefruit-fragrant hops

t- nothing sweet, just bitter and the hops linger in the back of my throat long after swallowing, though not as strong as most ipas i've had. lots of grapefruit in this one

m- lighter-bodied with surprisingly not a lot of carbonation - i'd like to see a bit more to be honest

o- good, goes down easy and quickly though the bitterness lingers. i can't tease out the hops, nor am i overwhelmed by them. a good ipa but not a great one. glad i tried it, and paired great with some cabot pepperjack cheese

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date - 08/12/11
12oz to pint

A: The Oracle pours a clear caramel pale color with a soapy half finger khaki head that draped lace with every sip.

S: Smells of bready malts and toffee. Spicey hops with some floral pine notes and a touch of citrus oils.

T: Big 'n' juicy. Big caramel sweetness. Decent amount of hop bitterness that comes through spice and resiny pine. Touch boozy. Def. warming. Little bit of citrus orange spice to it. Pretty good. Alcohol mucho.

M: Considerably light body for a big DIPA. Sticky sleek mouthcoat. Rather smooth mf overall.

D: I found the Oracle to be a rather smooth and nice sipper overall.

A bit on the boozy sweet side for my tastes. Good dose of hops but just not enough to counter the big malt bill here.

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Photo of dar482
3.66/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

(2016)
The beer comes in a medium hazy deep gold.

The aroma is a touch muted. Sweet grapefruit, hints of caramel, sweet fresh bread, onto dank, onion, chive, garlic, earthy, resin.

The beer hints of lots of resin and huge piney bitterness throughout, full on. There's some grapefruit marmalade upfront and caramel and bready, only hidden by an almost abrasive and sticky bitterness of earthy, resin, dank.

(2014)
The aroma has juicy citrus and grapefruit, floral, resinous pine, and some caramel malt.

The flavor follows with a pop of big sweetness on the front. Lots of malt on this beer with a bit of grapefruit peel and lots of leafy green pine on the back.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.67/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A bottle shared by largadeer at a BA tasting. Even though we shared 3 very strong beers before this one, it was so strong that I feel confident I managed to experience its full range of flavors. As Chris put it: "this is a palate-raping beer."

A: Pours a cloudy, effervescent amber body. A vigorous pour filled the glass with substantial foam for even the small sample size; it receded slowly and left some lacing behind. Nice.

S: Pineapple and assorted tropical fruit (I swear I pick up lychee, but then I am craving lychees). Tangerine, orange. A touch of biscuit. Great aroma.

T: Wow, tongue-bruising and palate-raping. Tons of pineapple citrus, but it's almost like drinking pineapple juice, which reminds you of that small cut on your tongue. Enamel-peeling and harsh. Mango / grapefruit / tangerine blend. I get the biscuit malt I smelled in the nose, but it's very subtle and easy to miss on most of the sips. The beer finishes hugely bitter. It's similar to HopSlam in some respects, but not as enjoyable.

M: Wayyy more bitter than I enjoy; I like a clean flavor. Noticeable booze. Medium-bodied, medium carbonation.

D: Points for extreme flavor, but this is a beer that throws balance by the wayside and kicks it while it's down. I'm not sure if I'd go out of my way to trade for this, but if it were shared again, I wouldn't turn it down. An enjoyable beer, just not something I'd use as an ideal representation of the style.

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Photo of cwguy5
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Brawley's for this one!

A - deep golden, orange color with one finger, bubbly head; faded to nice a covering cap with enormous amounts of lacing
S - aromatic hops, then malt and bread, then pine
T - bitter in front followed by brief pineapple then huge piney, bitterness at end
M - velvety smooth; medium carbonation with fine, foamy bubbles
D - drinkability for me is low here; not sure if this is from the bitterness or the lack of much fruit or anything beyond pine oil; just not my favorite palate for a big ipa

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Photo of TheBrosy
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle.

Appearance: Pours a nice gold with medium off-white head that slowly dissipates. Very clear.

Smell: Nice citrus smell. Some pine and floral hop smell to balance.

Taste: Very smooth. Hop bitterness is present, but very pleasant. Malt flavor seems to be a bit lost. Alcohol flavor is quite noticeable. Starts bitter, becomes sweet, ends with some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation.

A pretty solid DIPA. The malt bill gets lost in the hops and the alcohol is a bit overbearing.

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Photo of ARoman
3.69/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. The aroma is a bright toffee, tropical, floral citrus blend with an undertones of light woody, alcohol, and burnt molasses; not too similar from a fresh barleywine. It pours a murky pale orange with a white, small suds, filmy head that has good retention and lace. It's highly bitter with a medium citrus sweet, but the bitterness dampens with warmth. The texture is chewy, sticky, and a bit syrupy with a fuzzy carbonation and a full body. The palate contains a strong grain character with a burnt quality as well as bitter citrus, wax, floral, and a strengthening caramel note late. The finish is initially crisp zippy with a bread crust quality although it loses this edge with warnth and turns smooth and syrupy. There's a resinous and waxy, cloying aftertaste with notes of bitter cough medicine and a strong bitter floral; overall it's aftertaste is prominent and lingering. This definitely qualifies as a west coast palate wrecker, and best served at cellar temp.

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Photo of jtingue
3.7/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Relaease. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance. Light amber in color. Pours with 2 fingers of head which dissipates to a half a finger which lingers for quite a while.

Smell. Nice citrus hop aromas with some pineyness as well.

Taste. Starts out with a slightly sweet citrus. This slowly transitions to a pretty heavy bitterness that is resinous, but not without a substantial amount of malty sweetness. Lots of hop flavors that is citric with lots of lemon. There is quite an alcoholic presence that is very reminiscent of bourbon whiskey. The finish is again bitter and resinous.

Mouthfeel. Nice thick creamy body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Quite a nice mouthfeel for a dipa, right up my alley.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
93 out of 100 based on 753 ratings.
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