Maillard's Odyssey: Imperial Dark Ale (Beer Camp Across America) - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Maillard's Odyssey: Imperial Dark Ale (Beer Camp Across America)Maillard's Odyssey: Imperial Dark Ale (Beer Camp Across America)

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1,354 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,354
Reviews: 187
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 9.16%
Wants: 14
Gots: 105 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: raynmoon on 07-03-2014

Rich, dark, and roasty. That was the concept Bell’s beer guru John Mallett aimed for and, true to John’s vision, Maillard’s Odyssey is exactly that. Its name honors the Maillard reaction—the “browning” of sugars and amino acids—that creates the wonderful caramelized toffee-like and roasted flavors so abundant in this beer.

Bell’s has done a lot to raise the Midwest’s craft beer bona fides. They are masters of many beer styles from their portfolio of top-notch American stouts all the way through to the alpha acid assault of their Hopslam Ale. Bell’s constantly reinvents beer styles and refines recipes with artful mastery and an oddball slant.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,354 | Reviews: 187
Reviews by udubdawg:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

As others have pointed out,after drinking this I believe this to be a porter not an American Black Ale.Pours a deep chocolate color with a creamy half finger deep beige head that settles very slowly leaving almost two full rings of lace as it does.Molasses,char,coffee,and some burnt notes in the nose,mild earthy hops round it out.Some chocolate hits upfront on the palate then some molasses and burnt sugar,the roast and drying earthiness is big in the finish.This is a damn fine PORTER and a big one at that,a great complex beer.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a teku, the beer was a dark brown, near black color. The head was a brwn sugar color with a bit of lacing.

Aroma of coffee and chocolate. Some caramel.

More caramel and toffee in the taste. Coffee. Dark chocolate.

Medium-bodied, smooth.

One of the highlights of beer camp.

Photo of Beaver13
3.34/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours dark brown with a big creamy tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is subdued - some mild grains and toffee malt and a bit of smoke come out as it sits.

The flavor is sweet caramel and toffee malt with some peaty smokiness and decent bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, interesting - nice balance of sweet toffee, smoke and bitterness.

Photo of barhoc11
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Nice and black, just like I like them

S: Sweet with hints of coffee and black licorice

T: Sweet with hints of carmel, licorice, and coffee. This is a top notch black ale

M: Very full, helps counterbalance the higher abv

O: I thought this was very well done for a black ale, very smooth and has a good complexity to it. One of the best in the beer camp 12 pack

Photo of bsp77
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Near black with small but sustained tan head.

Smell: Dark chocolate, molasses, caramel, coffee and some chalkiness.

Taste: Chocolate, coffee, char, caramel, toffee, molasses, various dark fruits. This pretty much has all of the possible flavors of a beer in the Stout spectrum

Feel: Full body, very creamy and smooth. Might carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Overall: I am not sure what Imperial Dark Ale means, but I am not sure what this is either. Imperial Porter? American Stout? Export Stout? Oatmeal Stout? It seems to be some combination of all of those. What it is is delicious.

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Dark sugars dominate the nose seasoned with light coffee, roast and chocolate. A deep brown column of beer supports a 1” moussey tan foam cap that marks each sip with a thick line of lace. The beer’s palate impresses with the range of Maillard reaction flavors – kettle carmelization flavors from boiling the wort vigorously for a long time mingle with a variety of roast malt flavors with some yeast driven dark dried fruit in the middle with bitter hop and roast flavors rising in the finish. A light caramel undertone and the interaction between the two types of Maillard reactions provide an interesting reaction and rounds off any harsh or rough notes. The rich creamy texture and chewy body elevate the beer.

Photo of PSU_Mike
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown, near black with a 2 finger khaki head that lingers for a bit before leaving nice lace rings around the edges of the glass. Looks like a very dark brown ale bordering on porter. First smell is beautiful roasted malt. Hints of toffee and caramel show their face as well. I may even be able to spot some coffee in the background but it's extremely subtle. First sip takes me by surprise...chocolate milk. That came out of nowhere. Mid-palette turns to roasted malt. The finish is all coffee. Full bodied and creamy, this one is not light on the tongue. Not much in the way of carb but it's there.

For the beer camp across america sampler pack, this is my last of the lot. Of all 12, this is the belle of the ball. Exceptional beer.

Photo of MattyG85
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%

On tap at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul, MN. 10 oz. pour served in a chalice.

Appearance: Color is a very dark blackish brown. Moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of tan head which slowly recedes into a thin creamy layer. Leaves some good creamy lacing.

Smell: A dark roasty and fairly sweet dark malt forward aroma with good hints of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Upfront dark roasted barley malt with hints of dark chocolate, coffee beans, burnt toast, sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, oats, and wheat. Sweet hints of brown sugar and molasses. Subtle dark fruit hints of fig and raison. Light hints of earthy hops. A pretty solid stout aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a dark, roasty, and somewhat sweet dark malt driven taste with big notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel malt sweetness. Big upfront dark roasted malt with notes of dark chocolate, burnt toast, coffee, biscuit, caramel, toffee, oats, and wheat. Sweet notes of brown sugar and molasses. Dark fruit undertones with notes of raisin and fig. Subtle background notes of earthy hops. A very solid taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a medium to high level of carbonation. Rich, creamy, and somewhat drying on the finish. Alcohol heat is hidden well.

Overall: A pretty good dark brew. Has the full bodied richness of an imperial stout with some good roasty chocolate and coffee flavors.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appears pitch black in the glass with a beautiful dark mocha tan head, leaves great residual lacing chunks behind as the head dwindles.

Aroma rich malt dark roasted tones of chocolate and toffee mid creamy dark chocolate and other caramelized malt notes coming off the beer…I’m in. Dark fruit earthy hops rolling around I like this brew.

Flavor goes great with what’s present, dark chocolate, toffee and a mild creamed coffee note. This is one of the highlights in the Beer Camp mixed 12 pack. Elicit explosion of flavor on this beer, rolls off the palate without effort I love this dark beer with expressive herbal earthy hops to balance out the big malt layers.

Mouthfeel is full bodied even flowing silky smooth on the palate I’m feeling every sip, what a great beer!!! I’m in for more and more pleasurable notes in this beer.

Overall I pray I see a beer of this caliber come out in the next year from Sierra Nevada but this proves what a collaborative process can do for a beer!

Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle allowed to warm for about 12 minutes. Pours with a well-proportioned, thick, and very durable tan head. The body is near black with reddish-brown edges.

Flavor: rich and moderately complex, with a wealth of dark roasted malts, hints of toffee and dark chocolate, and a clear black coffee note in the finish and aftertaste. Some hop flavor in addition to the bittering that gives this a good sweet/bitter balance.

Feel: Full, smooth body with well set carbonation.

O: approaches 4.

Photo of timontheroad
4.21/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very dark brown, almost black, no light shining through at all. Nice three fingers of fluffy light brown head, good retention and lacing. Aroma was lots of chocolate, coffee and roasty malt. I swear I smelled Cocoa Puffs! The taste was really nice with the roasty malt up front with coffee and slight chocolate notes on the back end. The mouthfeel was typically medium to thin like a porter, with little to no carbonation bite. Overall, this was quite a tasty beer, nice collab between Sierra Nevada and Bell's, just what you would expect from two outstanding breweries with great craft tradition. I really liked this beer.

Photo of Auraan
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%

Poured a gorgeous dark, almost black, brown body with reddish highlights around the edges and two fingers of thick tan head. Quite good looking. Scents of rich toffee, sweet caramel, black coffee and luscious chocolate balanced together with hints of alcohol and undertones of dark fruit, especially raisin, with slight cinnamon-like spiciness discernible. An excellent, malt, rich and complex aroma that is remarkable in its balance. Very nice. Flavor begins sweet with toffee, caramel, dark fruit, especially raisin, milk chocolate and coffee flavors mingling with faint notes of alcohol. The middle changes tone slightly with rich milk chocolate becoming the most prominent flavor, alongside hints of coffee and a more pronounced alcohol flavor. The finish is slightly drier with notes of black coffee, semi-sweet chocolate, heavy amounts of dark fruit and a pronounced, though not overwhelming, alcohol warmth. Aftertaste is semi-dry with notes of roast malt, strong black coffee and hints of cocoa powder. A wonderfully rich, complex and malty flavor profile that is warming and pleasant. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with light carbonation and a smooth, slick feel with a touch of alcohol burn. Very nice and drinkable, quite pleasant. Overall this is a fantastic dark ale. It is complex and rich in aroma and flavor and with a wonderfully pleasant mouthfeel. It seems like the perfect Winter beer and is simply wonderful to drink.

Photo of azorie
3.84/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When it first poured into the mug, the nose on it was very hop forward and I though oh geez another IPA than is black. i took a sip, yep a tad hop forward, but it was too cold.

I took picture of the pour. well right after I poured it and moved it to computer room.
Dark stout porter in color, aka dark as night. Big giant head. LOTS of lacing. lasted a long time, it took about 10 minutes for the head to die off.

tastes and smell the same after 1 hour out. Slightly boozy, nice roasted malt, very balanced now.
coffee, and toffee, sweet brown malt flavors. Hints of raisins or dried plums like fruits. slightly bitter hop after taste now.

mouth-feel is rich, chocolate like velvet smoothness. medium carb. a tiny bit chalky.

decent dark ale, more of a RIS to me than a porter, of course it COULD be a porter. 8.5% is a STOUT PORTER, get it. lol
drinkable though, would be nice to have again if it they remade it. best 1 I had so far. but its not perfect.

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Poured into a 10 ounce pint shaped glass from the tap at O'neill's in Albuquerque.

Arrives with a finger and a half thick, dark khaki colored head. It's fluffy and foamy and looks thick. The body is pitch black and opaque. 4.25

It smells like a dry stout. Heavily malty with a touch of chocolate, caramel, and something creamy. There may be a touch of coffee. 4

If there was a touch on the nose, the coffee definitely shows up on the taste. It's like a dark, bold roast with an impressive chocolate element. Sweet caramel notes add some fun. 4

Just as with the flavors, there's a competition between sweet and bitter. The coffee and hops have a potent bittering effect, but the malts offer enough creaminess and sweetness to even things out. The finish is a dry, lingering coffee taste that is very Guinness-like. 4.25

It's a great beer. Possibly the best in the pack. But let's give Double Latte a run. 4.25

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - Near black with only cola brown edging allowing light to pass, this opaque brew pours out to form a tan, finger width head. Retention is decent, leaving behind a broken layer of surface suds. Lacing is good, showing nice ring development and strong stick to the glass.

Smell - Mocha galore! Notes of chocolate and coffee are most prominent, with a fair underlying caramel character. Touches of earth sit well beneath.

Taste - Follows the nose. Lots of mocha flavor upfront. A strong caramel punch hits mid-taste. Touches of earth and smoke near the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with fair carbonation. Fairly slick and smooth, but not in an outstanding way.

Overall - Grossly miscategorized here as an American Black Ale (aka Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale), and the 40 IBU's prominently displayed on the front of the label is a testament to that. Drinks much closer to an Imperial Porter than anything. In any event it's pretty darn delicious, but it's no Steelhead Scotch Porter.

Photo of PBRmeasap1980
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from beer camp box into CCB snifter

A- Jet black with almost no head. Thin looking, but since this isn't a stout, thats ok.
S- Not getting much smell. Just a bit of malty sweetness. I wish it were more areomatic
T- Nice roasted and sweet maltiness. A bit of boozy burn for some reason, but this is only 8.5%. Finishes with a bit of bitterness. Maybe a bit of coffee bitterness.
M- Standard solid porter mouthfeel...drinkable. Just fine for the style.

O- I would rank this as 3 or 4 in the box. The two cans were the standouts.

Photo of secondtooth
4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep opaque black, with a thick head of tan bubbles. Neat and unique ornate solid-stripe lace.

Nose is deep, dark chocolate, roasty, malty, and definitely rich and sweet (but not overly so). Very very enticing.

Taste is, again, rich and chocolatey, with a hint of char, smoke, and coffee. Finish is a bit dry, but not surprising as this is an 8.5% ABV.

Overall, a mammoth, top-tier collaboration and one I wish would return in the future.

Photo of Roguer
4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a small, 1-finger dark brown head from a careful pour. Brew is extremely dark brown, nearly black, with purple and lighter brown highlights along the edges. Retention is OK. Nice lacing.

Dark fruits, yeast, spices, and a bit of booze leap from the glass. Caramelized brown sugar, toffee, and a hint of brown sugar, as well. The aroma promises a depth and complexity...

...that the flavor lives up to fairly well. Big, dark chocolate notes on the front- and back-end; caramel, dark fruit, and toffee swirl all around; a bit of earthy, herbal spiciness from the hops (perhaps a bit of actual spices, as well); light citrus - pulpy grapefruit and a bit of rind; dark coffee.

So, so much going on in this beer. It's sweet, but not overmuch; really straddles the line between quad/BSDA and Belgian stout (they call it a Strong Ale; that fits, too).

Smooth, medium feel; dry finish; fairly lively, with a little bit of sting.

This is one of the best beers from the Beer Camp Across America pack. It's a very tasty beer if you're looking for something dark and malty. It's a cross between a stout and a Belgian dark ale, to me, and it comes across quite nicely.

Photo of Fatehunter
4/5  rDev -1%

Pours a thin tan head on a black body.
The aroma is full of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and more roasted malt. Great.
The taste is an outstanding blend of bitter chocolate, roasted malt, touch of burnt sugar and milk finish.
The texture is soft and a little creamy.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%

On tap at Bx Beer Depot. Served in a taster.

Appearance - Deep black body. Nice khaki head. Thick collar.

Smell - Roasty malt. Coffee and dark chocolate. Light grapefruit hop.

Taste - Rich chocolate. Bitter coffee. Kinda sweet up front, but drops off to a roasty and raisiny fruit finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy up front, but the body drops off to a lighter porter texture.

Overall - Very tasty. The most flavorful of the series so far.

Photo of larryarms847
4.46/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick and very rich dark brown with a plump off white two finger head.

Aromas of coffee, burnt sugar, roasted nuts, and toffee seduced my nostrils.

Coffee, nuts, roasted malts, and toffee are balanced wonderfully so and go down silky smooth.

Mouthfeel smooth upfront with a burnt sugar stoutness that is followed up with a very faint but definite hop bitterness perfectly balanced and hardly noticeable.

Overall this is a handsome brew and damn do I wish they both put this in their year-round lineup, or at least seasonal ;)

Photo of KTCamm
3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

10/27...BCAA 1/12...pours complete blackness, like paint with a light tan lid. Rich roasted coffee nose. Some sweetness. Hearty creamy rich chewy chocolate bar taste. Like a milk shake. Boozy. Supremely roasted.

Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev -1%

Jet black in appearance, the head was light and fizzy. Dry chocolate and Graham cracker nose I do catch some char, coffee and lactose. The flavor is big and bold and dry. Chocolate malt, light toffee, dry malt, coffee roast, char and caramel are front and center. The biggest drawback is I find it thin and watery. All in all this is amongst the best in the 12 pack.

Photo of Brutaltruth
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A fantastic ale from Beer Camp. Pours a thick opaque black with nice dark tan foam layer that dies down to outer glass lacing. Thick and rich, this offering has the aromas of dark bittersweet chocolate, caramel malts, toffee, a hint of coffee, and a touch of sour cherries. Taste is up front splendid chocolate explosion with a touch of coffee, caramel malts to the back, toffee and cherry like flavors on the aftertaste with a very light bittering hop. Fantastic mouthfeel, chewy and lightly carbonated. Stout lovers, listen up, GET IT WHILE YOU CAN. This is one to contact them on for a continual brewing. An A plus in my book.

Photo of gillagorilla
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Burley Oak snifter

A: Pitch black with a mocha head and lacing.

S: All roast with a bit of black coffee.

T: Quite creamy and chocolately. I get a lot of coffee and roast.

M: Smooth and silky.

O: Interesting and definitely gets better as it warms.

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Maillard's Odyssey: Imperial Dark Ale (Beer Camp Across America) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,354 ratings.