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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: 778 | Ratings: 2,679
Photo of merlin48
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle pours a mostly clear golden amber body with a tall and creamy offwhite head. Retention is excellent and leaves a cap all the way to the finish. Lavish sticky lacing decorates the glass.

Aroma pounds the olfactory senses with a sledge hammer of hops. Grassy, earthy, leafy, citrusy, minty, and hempy notes all make their presence known. Not quite the cat urine hint that I got from Hopslam, but close. Softer notes of florals and ripe plums are underneath and betray a kinship with Two Hearted.

Mouthfeel is a creamy medium, with a smooth carbonation and some hop resins.

Taste is all about the hops. Sharp citrus, grassiness, leafy, floral, minty, earthy, with some pine sap underneath. A nectar like hint of honey sweetness struggles to balance the massive assault of muti-hop bitterness. Finishes with a lasting earthy and leafy bitterness. Alcohol is cleverly concealed except for some warmth at the end.

Superb effort. Seems to blend the better attributes of its kindred, Hopslam and Two Hearted, into a unique identiy of it own. A challenging DIPA that is rewarding and satisying.

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Photo of cdrogers
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle to Guinness glass.

A: Nice amber color with a one inch off-white head.

S: Lots of citrus, mainly orange and some lemon, and also very floral. Lots going on in this one.

T: For an I-IPA it wasn't as overwhelming as I expected. I'm more of trappist guy and this one I was afraid of. I heard it was very rare and good, but I wasn't sure, it lived up to the hype. Lots of hops, but with some lemon again and the vibrate earthiness.

M: Dances around and then bam the hops come out.

D: I could drink a few of these for sure. Lots of hops but with the citrus it is all good. Exceptional I-IPA. Everyone must try this one.

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

Poured from 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours a clear deep amber with a light white head.
S: Piney, citrusy, and hoppy.
T: Good balance between piney hops and sweet malt with a good hoppy bitter finish.
M: Light bodied and well carbonated.
D: The 10.0% abv never shows itself, even as it warms. This is a superb IIPA.

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Photo of zoolzoo
3.57/5  rDev -14.2%
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 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.

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Photo of Verecund
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
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 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.

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Photo of silentjay
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a deep copper with a slight brownish haze. An eggshell colored head raises to an average two-fingers, but leaves tons of lacing and sticks around for minutes.

not as hoppy an aroma as I expected (this bottle was brewed about 6 weeks ago, so not extremely fresh, but should still be young) some butterscotch, caramel and slightly toasty breads are more dominant in the nose. Though not over-the-top hoppy, it still smells pretty nice.

sweet caramel and definite toasty malts with some toffee, molasses, and honey sweetness. citrus, floral, and tropical fruit hops are present throughout and finally take over with a bit of sweetness and some bitterness on the back end. booze on the swallow as well.

oily medium bodied with just a touch of carbonation and a relatively dry finish (no resin left behind) some lingering alcohol heat.

drinks ok. definitely different from HopSlam, which is more my style of DIPA, but tasty in its own way. Alcohol is there and a tad harsh at times.

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Photo of whoneeds8
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to biglobo8971 who sent this for the winnings from the Sunday Night Football Squares LIF week 4. I'm enjoying this watching Game 5 of the ALDS cheering for the Rangers!!!!

Poured into a tulip glass a golden orange with a two finger foam white head. Great lacing and retention. My allergies are a PIA this time of year, and all I can find in the scent is some alcohol. But that's my noises fault. The taste has some piny hop notes with a slight citric sweetness that morphs into a carmel flavor and hoppy bitter aftertaste. Very complex. The mouthfeel isn't too thick or too thin, just right for the style. And the alcohol is well masked making this a very drinkable IIPA.

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Photo of hophead247
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with a one and a half finger thick off white head that settled slowly. Thick lacing. Aroma is toasted malt, and pine and floral hops. Flavor is full of piny hops and toasted malt. A well balanced IIPA. Scary drinkability at over 10%. Medium to full body. Nice beer...thanks Brandon...

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Photo of klikger
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a Bruery tulip

A - Rich amber, cloudy, small white head, & great lacing

S - Honey and a hint of hops. I'm underwhelmed (and potentially broken-nosed).

T - Caramel, honey, and floral hops --> toffee --> barrage of hops shows up near the end: the finish is grapefruit bitter, and this is joined by more malty sweetness in the aftertaste.

M - Thick for a DIPA; gets syrupy as it warms, but not horrifically.

D - I could have another, which is good for a DIPA this strong and sweet.

Not nearly as good as HopSlam, but a quality midwestern DIPA nonetheless. Solid, but not spectacular.

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Photo of billshmeinke
2.44/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a nonic.

Just over a a quarter inch of head. Sits atop a golden amber body that is slightly hazy and has evidence of lively carbonation. Dies down to a solid bubbly cap of foam on top. Retention is pretty awesome, and lacing is great as well.

Smells of some honey malts, fruity esters, citrus, and grapefruit. Also a hint of alcohol.

Lots of honey, a touch of bread, some resin, and citrus. Long lasting resin bitterness. Definitely an east coast interpretation of a dipa.

Mouthfeel has low carbonation, resiny bitterness and a good amount of hop oils. Would definitely like more carbonation in this one.

Alcohol wasn't well hidden, not enough carbonation, and not enough hop flavor. Not too good in my opinion.

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Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz bottle into Tulip.

A. Big 3 finger head. Very good retention. Thick lacing. Copperish orange color.

S. Smell is what you come to expect from Bells. That is to say it is all about the hops. Sweet delicous, tropical hops. I would describe it like Hopslam with out the sweetness to the smell. This might not have the room filling aroma that Hopslam does, but I can't get over the tropical fruit smell, pineapple, grapefruit, mango even. Maybe just a hint of alcohol smell.

T. Wow! Almost taste like drinking pineapple juice. This is delicous. Sweetness comes almost more from the hops than the malt, if that makes any sense. The tropical fruit is definitely evident in the taste. Pineapple, grapefruit, orange, tangerine. Very citrusy sweet. I dont really pick up a lot of malt. The hop bitterness really only displays itself as a lingering taste on the tongue. No trace of 10.4%

M. Medium bodied. Mediumb carbonation. Sweet but finishes dry with a lingering bitterness.

D. I really don't know how a 10.4% DIPA can get any more drinkable. This goes down so easy, and is very delicous. The only thing bad about this beer is that it is seasonal. Seriously if Bells can craft DIPAs like this and Hopslam why can't they put out a year round one.

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Photo of scottakelly
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark gold in color with superb clarity. Almost non-existent head and lacing. Strong aroma of tropical fruits. Initial taste is all american hops with almost no malt profile. I liked the taste better as it warmed, and a slightly toasty, dry malt character comes forward. It's not as good as Hopslam, but is still a fantastic DIPA.

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Photo of hawks10
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle - Batch 9901 - Bottled August 23rd, 2010 - Poured into my Bell's tulip...

Pours a hazy golden orange with a touch of light brown. Three fingers of dense off white head forms, sticks around for a while before receding and leaves some nice lacing behind...

Floral hops with a citrus twist dominates the nose. Sweet.

Sweet citrus hops dominate the taste initially, but after a couple seconds there is an overwhelming bitterness that lingers seemingly forever...Loads of citrus before an earthy, floral bitterness sets in. Malt is in hiding...

Medium to heavy bodied. Somewhat thick and sticky, decent carbonation. Drying bitterness lingering well into the aftertaste...

Pretty drinkable for such a one-sided beer. No real balance, but the flavor is still good and drinkability still pretty high, I don't usually feel that way...

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

A- Burnt orange with great carbonation and a thin, yet resilient head which lasted the length of the drink.

S- Hops, citrus, some malts, and some booziness.

T- Hops are very upfront, and balanced incredibly by the malt. Grapefruit is all over this one, and really shines in the aftertaste. Some pine notes as well and as some caramel notes. I love how much they could cram into the flavor while maintaining balance between everything.

M- Full bodied, and quite creamy while at the same time being just a little bit sticky and dry.

D- This is an DIPA which has a lot of taste too it, but is very easy to drink at the same time. Somewhat scary how easy it is to drink this. I almost felt like my review had a countdown on it because I wanted another sip right after the last.

The alcohol sadly was slightly noticable though, I got little hints of it after some sips, and on one hand I'm glad it's there, to slow me down a bit from chugging this delicious brew back, but on the other hand it took away from the taste slightly. Removing that would have probably secured a "5" in the taste catergory. I think it's acceptable for all the taste they fit in.

Prime example of a DIPA, and I will have it again if I can.

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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.

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

A: Bright, burnt orange/copper color. Pours a 1 finger off-white head that dissipates to a thin skim. Laces in thin rings.

S: Big citrussy and floral hop bomb up front. As the beer warmed a bit and decanted, roasted malt and a little sugar well in the background.

T: Lots of citrus hops; orange rind, grapefruit. Resiny hops coat through the middle. Some unfermented sugar and a little toasted malt character. Huge bitter builds in the finish. This beer is a hop monster.

M: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. Resiny and very bitter.

D: ABV is a bit daunting, but disguised well. A little rough to have more than one, but totally enjoyed it.

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Photo of drxandy
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got a bottle of the first bottling and thought i reviewed it, apparently not - this batch around, here we go

12oz to tulip glass, pours a peachy shade, creamy head retains excellently

smells of hops and more hops, biscuity malt

taste is nice and dry, sweetness in the middle, bitter lingering delicious hops. good finish

mouthfeel is bitter and creamy

overall a very nice dipa, very drinkable, good weight for alc content and excellent balance.

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

On tap at the 2010 Minnesota Brew Review.

Appearance: Amber orange hazy with an ethereal glow when held up to the sun.

Smell: Powerful resin-pine and citrus-grapefruit hops right up front. Underlying orange and sweeter tropical scents like pineapple. Fantastic like I'm hewing blue spruce while I've got a chaw of grapefruit rinds.

Taste: Take no quarter bitterness of a heap of hops, I'm detecting tangy oranges, lemons, grapefruit, candied pine sap and spicy herbal bitters. Only the slightest nod to something resembling malt that lends a faint background note of roasted caramel, yet this somehow mananges to lend balance.

Mouthfeel: Lush and creamy.

Drinkability: This is an incredibly DIPA. Who would know it's 10.4% ABV? Who cares. More please.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bell's Oracle DIPA on tap at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, WI, poured into a snifter. A special tapping for a Bell's Event celebrating their anniversary!

Appearance: Beautiful cloudy orange, nice fluffy head. Thick lacing.

Smell: Hops, citrus aromas. Very light considering the heft of this brew. Some sweetness. The booziness is well hidden, unlike in the bottle version.

Taste: Fruity. Sweet-to-bitter buildup. Floral overtones.

Mouthfeel: Nice, pleasant. Fine carbonation. Medium to full body, creamy as it goes down.

Drinkability: High! This is a big beer that -on draught- drinks easy and doesn't show the brutal ABV. I find the bottle version to be harsh, bitter, cloying and not exactly drinkable. The tap version is much easier and balanced and, while not my favorite DIPA, Oracle sure does work.

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Photo of zoso493
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first review in a long time after a lengthy BA hiatus. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a not-quite-dry DFH signature glass.

Appearance: Pours a brilliant, burnt copper orange. This beer glows an absolutely radiant amber-orange when held up to the light. A timid pour produces a foamy one-finger head that dissipates quickly and leaves some narrow striations of lacing on the glass.

Smell: This is just a sensational scent for a DIPA. Nothing but hops in the nose. There's a big blast of juicy, fruity hops up front that absolutely decimate the malts. The tropical hops are just immense in the smell, exactly as the should be in a DIPA. If you really strain, you can detect some slightly sugary and lightly toasted malts hiding somewhere in the background.

Taste: This is just a brashly hopped out DIPA that says to hell with balance and malts, DIPA's should be about the hops. It's a bitter, monstrous DIPA and I love that about it. I can barely even distinguish between the hops in the taste, and I suppose ultimately that is what prevents this beer from attaining the perfect. I am assuming from the smell that the hops are of a juicy, orange fruity character, but my palate is too far destroyed at this point to say for sure. The malts in this one are unique, if only hardly detectable. Most big DIPA's go for the sugary, caramel malts to coat the hops, but Bells has chosen to give this one a toasted malt profile.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel in Oracle is very nice. It's just thick enough without being cumbersome, but still does not leave a big cloying sensation on your palate, though the hops do stick around enough to let you know they're there.

Drinkability: If I have one quip with the Oracle it's that the alcohol is little bit too noticeable in the taste. It's certainly not very offputing, but it really doesn't belong in a DIPA.

Overall, Bells Oracle is yet another great offering Larry Bell. I'm an unabashed hophead and this brew is exactly the cure for a hop fix. Though Oracle is not complex enough to be considered a really "elite" beer, it is still a masterfully powerful DIPA and one that I consider myself lucky to have tried.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 12 oz. bottle, Batch 9901, sent amongst a treasure trove of Upper Midwest goodies by hoppymeal; thank you, Derek. Poured to a pint glass (Abita). 'Alc. 10.0% by Vol.'

Back label: 'A double IPA that is sure to make you as all-knowing as Pythia. It's just a matter of interpretation.'

Personal Pet Peeve Alert: Front label's 'DIPA Ale' = Double India Pale Ale...Ale. That's the equivalent of 'ATM Machine', annoying and wrong.

A: Auburn/butterscotch orange with just a few of the laziest, good-fer-nuthin' bubbles these eyes have seen. A brief head, whitish cream that can't even reach a half-finger. Good lace in gooey ribbons and dense, threadbare sheets.

S: An aroma like cut pine, spiced wood and resin. Orange and some pineapple, sweet and alluring.

T: Almost finished the glass before I had taken a single mote on taste...it's a busy one, layers of toffee/caramel malt on spiced hops, earthy and sappy and green. Lime/grapefruit citrus rind hardly seems bitter here, it's more like a candied version. Lasting grassy/herbal bitters and plenty of sweet spice, a flavor I don't want to end.

M: Remarkable creaminess/smoothness, molten and refined. Medium-full body without being cloying/sticky whatsoever. Soft carbonation and a velvety coating of sticky tang. Beautiful feel.

D: Dangerously drinkable, a deceptively hidden alcohol paired with brilliant hop/malt balance makes The Oracle among a select few DIPA (Ale)s I would crave. Wow, very tasty and worth what little effort I had to go through to get it (thanks again, Derek!). Disappeared far too quickly and would love more...hint, hint!

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Photo of oberon
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Now part of the bottle selection at the Mellow Mushroom in Greensboro.Poured into a standard pint glass a hazed deep burnt orange with a tight formed,well defined one finger white head that held well.A blast of grapefruit and tangerine aromas lets you know this is some seriuos hop juice comin at ya,a tinge of sweet caramel and alcohol comes into play as well.The mouthfeel is coating but not overly thick,just lush and somewhat oily.Serious hop juice on the palate,huge grapefruit,tangerines,and candied orange flavors,with a little pine resin,but the hop flavors are dominated by the citric hop qualities.Some sweetness imparted from the alcohol and a little caramel,are there as well.This is a bad ass DIPA here,true to what it should be in my mind,not overly sweet and HUGE hops!

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

The beer was served chilled in an Imperial Pint glass.

Appearance: The beer has a very nice clear coppery orange coloration. The head has a pancake batter coloration. Speaking of pancakes the beer leaves an almost pancake batter lacing on my glass. Great head retention that stands up to my manly mustache.

Smell: Very resinous pine combines with grapefruit marmalade and covers a bit of caramel biscuit maltyness.

Taste: The hops really bite me on the lip. What can I say it warms my cold heart. I am really digging the pine resin hops. The grapefruit vias with the alcohol almost vodka and juice style. Caramel biscuit malt peaks its head out but gets slammed by hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The mouthfeel of the beer is medium. The alcohol is a bit hot but I think it works well. The hops are very forward and aggressive. No balance to be found and really non wanted. This was a beer that should have taken a bit more time to drink but I couldnt stop myself. Very tasty and well made. Man I wish I had more.

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