Maillard's Odyssey
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Maillard's OdysseyMaillard's Odyssey
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American Imperial Porter
4.06 | pDev: 9.11%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Maillard's OdysseyMaillard's Odyssey
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 181 | Ratings: 1,378
Photo of fmccormi
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%

Straight pour from a 12oz pry-off bottle to an oversized wineglass (JK stemware). This bottle’s got a packaging date of May 30, 2014 printed in light grey ink near the top of the back label (“PKGD 05/21/2014 1557”), making this beer about three and a half months old at the time of consumption. Normally I’d drink a beer when it’s fresher, but it’s been refrigerated consistently and I intentionally saved the less hops-dependent beers in this mix pack for last, so as to review them more at my convenience. Should still be delicious.

Appearance (4.5): Three solid fingers of fine, thick, cappuccino-colored foam rise easily off of the pour, capping an effectively black body with basically no light passing through. As the head recedes, the surface turns pillowy and rocky; it leaves a collar at the top, connected to the surface of the beer with wide, loopy legs leaving circular patches of clear glass. Beautiful lacing remains, and the edges of the beer eventually pass some light, showing it to be the color of root beer.

Smell (4.25): Mmmm, this has a beautiful, dark, rich aroma without any roasty astringency. Cold-brew coffee, dates, a little cocoa powder, molasses and toffee, lightly burned sugar, and nice caramel make up the body. As it warms up, a layer of beautiful, bright orange tones creeps in quietly, hanging out underneath the warm, rich, sweet malt body.

Taste (4.25): This starts deceptively smooth, with a subtle, cold-brew coffee flavor mixed with toffee and dark dulce de leche, a little boozy fruit cake, a bit of tangy prune and raisin, and a little cocoa powder. Some surprisingly pleasant alcohol heat comes through in the finish—it adds some levity and depth that help to emphasize the ligher aspects of the body. In particular the cocoa powder, tangy part of the prunes, and that bright, oily orange character shown in the nose really come out more, thanks to that vaporous, boozy turn. The bitterness is based in that orange peel flavor, and somehow, it doesn’t clash with the rich malt body. This is just a wonderfully complex drink.

Mouthfeel (4.0): The body is smooth, on the full- side of medium-weight (but not by much, surprisingly), a little oily, and still it somehow finishes quietly dry. The carbonation is fine, low-key, and smooth, coming in softly and washing out with a gentle foam. Not as complex as I would have expected, but it’s very refined and smooth, especially considering the heat.

Overall (4.25): Mmm, American Porter? I don’t know about that, but I can appreciate that this “Imperial Dark Ale” doesn’t really have a good corollary in the list of beer styles. That said, in terms of aroma, flavor, and feel, “Imperial Dark Ale” definitely encapsulates what this beer is. It doesn’t have the roast of a porter or stout, the chewy fullness of a barleywine or Strong Ale, or the hoppy dynamic of an American Black Ale. It’s just big, dark (but not particularly roasty), smooth, complex, and delicious.

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Photo of chefhatt
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Has a dark thick body with a tan head.
The aroma is roast malt and chocolate.
The taste has a roasty and chocolate flavor.
mouthfeel feel is good and overall a good beer.

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Photo of Yancey82
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Excellent Porter. Pours with a thick, creamy head. Complex roasted flavor. Malty with a splendid mix of spicy hops. Just what you would expect when these two stellar breweries hook up.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%

Poured from bottle into a standard pint glass; color is dark brown, amber edges, head is tan that presents 1/4 inch thick then dissipates to a ring with some lacing; 4.

Aroma is deep and rich, big flavors and nice sweet undertone: malt is roast, chocolate and some light sweetness such as raisin and plum; hop notes are earthy, subtle; 4.25.

Taste is also deep, flavorful: big roast, nice chocolate, some coffee, light toffee, subtle booziness and maybe some raisin and bourbon like flavors; hops are similar to the aroma and earthy, crisp and bitter; 4.25.

Mouthfeel is a little sharp on the tongue at first but the lingering sweetness is pleasant; 4.

Overall a very nice, strong dark ale with nice porter like qualities but more unique in its execution.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.1/5  rDev +1%

12oz bottle from the BeerCamp pack
Notes on 07/30/2014 – Sierra Nevada balloon glass

A: Dark motor oil black and completely opaque with a glossy sheen to it. Thick two fingers plus of dark khaki suds forms over top holding quite nicely. Eventually crowns out leaving only a few chunky globs of stick left clinging to the glass. Looks the part that any good imperial stout would.

S: Darkly roasted malt aromatics evoke chocolate, brown sugar/molasses, dark fruits, licorice, and raisins. I get some earthy hop notes underneath all the roast.

T: Toasted brown breads with a dark toffee sweetness, dark fruits, and equal parts chocolate to coffee come together in great balance. There is a mild earthy hop bitterness to the beer midway and the alcohol is incredibly well masked throughout. Some flashes of brewers licorice and blackstrap molasses in there. Just loads of roast character in this one without any type of burnt harshness. All just so smooth and rich without ever becoming too sweet.

M: Moderate heavy filling body with a very smooth and lush mouth feel. Remains lighter and frothy on the tongue with a light slickness across the palate. Fairly clean otherwise.

D: This is one helluva Porter. Maillards Odyssey is a real sleeper amongst all the camp beers. A definite dark horse if you will. Incredible how they were able to coax such great depth in character out of this one and keep it all in good balance. Would love to pick this one up again. Ranks in the Top 3 of the camp for me.

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Photo of MDDMD
4/5  rDev -1.5%

A-dark brown black color with a decent light brown head and good lacing

S-dark malt, caramel, dark fruit, chocolate

T-dark caramel malt, chocolate, dark fruit, little coffee, slight char

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-one of my favorites of the series, good blend of flavors

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Photo of ONUMello
4/5  rDev -1.5%

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Pitch black with a one-finger head
S: Coffee, cocoa, some burnt sugar and toasted malt
P: Toasted malt, coffee, burnt sugar/molasses, cocoa. Similar to the nose; bold and tasty
M: Medium-bodied, somewhat bitter
O: Really well made, full of flavor

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Photo of MattyG85
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%

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.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.1/5  rDev +1%

Twelve ounce bottle. Packaged date 5/21/14. 40 IBUs.

A: Pours a dark brown with reddish highlights under a one-inch thick mocha head which lingers long and yields semi-rings and spots of lace.

N: Roasted malts, dark chocolate, toffee, dark fruits and earthy.

T: Mostly follows the nose with faint coffee, caramel and nutty overtones.

M: Semi-full body and medium carbonation. Rich, creamy, smooth with a fruity and roasty malted finish.

O: Well balanced and drinkable with hidden ABV.

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Photo of Gavage
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Dark brown in color with a 1" head that lingers around a while. Roasted malts are easily detectable on the nose and tongue. Dark chocolate, a hint of coffee, and a nice earthy bitterness round out the flavor. Alcohol is slightly noticable.

Lightly crisp to start, smoother and a bit dry at the finish. Slow sipping beer that is full flavored and very enjoyable.

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Photo of nmann08
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

On draft, pours jet black, almost dark as night, lots of light brown head that doesn't go away throughout the consumption of the beer.

The nose is alot of roast, oats, toasty malt and grain, a little resin, and hazelnut with some caramel. The flavors start off really toasty, nutty, with a good caramel sweetness to it that is balanced with the bitterness of the hops. The alcohol is non-existent in this. It is very refreshing and smooth. Clean smooth finish.

This is by far one of the best beer camps out there.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Bottle: Poured a clear dark color ale with a medium size off-white foamy head with good retention with minimal lacing. Aroma of dark roasted coffee is very dry with some chocolates notes and light caramel malt notes as well. Taste is a powerful assault of roasted malt and dark coffee which is quite dry but also avoids being astringent which is great. Some cacao notes and light caramel notes can also be detected. Body is lighter than expected with medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Hard to pinpoint to an exact style but very nice beer with good amount of complexity while retaining good drinkability.

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Photo of Zach136
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%

Appearance: Pitch black, caramel head dissipates to a collar and leaves OK lacing (4.00)

Aroma: Nice notes of chocolate, light roast, slight black malt soy-sauce peeks through as well (4.00)

Flavor: Big roast, light chocolate, light earthy hop. Little to no yeast character. Amazing intermingling of the flavors I can't explain with just describing the flavor profiles. (4.25)

Mouthfeel: Medium+ body, medium dry and lasting roast finish. Velvety. I'll buck the trend and say it's a bit too large body and velvety to be a traditional porter. Maybe one of those American porters that blurs the lines. Imperial Dark Ale is a great descriptor. (4.25)

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Photo of Slatetank
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%

I enjoyed this Bell's/Sierra Nevada Collaboration chilled from the 12oz in a stout glass. Review taken from notes.

The color is black with opaque clarity and 2 fingers of medium beige head with very fine bead and medium brown color at base of the glass with rings of lace sticking. The smell is intense with dark malt and caramel aroma with moderate sweet scent and toasted nose with light smell of dark sugar with subtle toasted nutty almost toffee with a light cocoa quality in the aroma. The feel has a mild roasted tinge up front with moderately high carbonation with subtle spice and mostly dry body with nutty texture as it finishes with low alcohol in the feel.

There is lots of roasted malt and caramel in the taste with a light cocoa flavor and slight dark fruit taste with subtle yeast element which adds a slight spice and bready flavor with a subtle toffee quality from the layers of malt without going to sweet. The flavor of raisin is mild in the finish. Overall this is a very tasty dark ale w/ lots of chocolate flavors but not overly roasted -just excellent!

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Photo of JayQue
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Last day of beer camp! Great American Porter. Pours a dense black color with a big light brown head. Good head retention and thick streaks of lacing on the glass. Aroma is powerful. Coffee, roasted malt and some chocolate.

Good rich complex taste. Lactose, roasted malt, milk chocolate, and a little toffee. Expertly blended. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich. Lighter than most stouts but still has a big flavor and big presence.

This and the Double Latte are easily the best of 2014 beer camp.

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Photo of Brad007
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Pours a rich black with a decent brown head into my glass. Description on label doesn't hint at a porter or stout.

Sweet with a cocoa, cream and coffee (to a lesser extent) footprint. It fits the concept of a robust porter.

Creamy with toffee, cocoa and dark fruit upfront. Very clean for 8.5%. Though it's taboo to use the word smooth, it does fit well here.

Finishes very clean with a muted alcohol presence. It's very easy to quaff so make sure to sip.

I haven't had a porter this robust in so long

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Photo of crag
4.75/5  rDev +17%

At only 40 IBUs I was waiting for a toasty malty lip smacking goodness and I wasn't disappointed. drank it straight out of the bottle so I can't give any of the typical feed back other than taste and that's what this beer is all about. And as advertised dark flavors abound toffee, caramel, chocolate - didn't p/u on the coffee but certainly the dark fruit - maybe cherry.

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Photo of mynie
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%

Pours dark brown. Nice head, nice body. Smells like chocolate and molasses.

Tastes like the aforementioned sweets only with a very nice finish of bittersour barley. A nice mocha beginning moves into a middle of coffee and charred barley, ending on a finish of fruity hops and porter-like barley. Basically if you combine a medium strength American brown with a baltic porter and somehow they blend together almost perfectly, this is the beer you end up with.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%

Enjoyed from a bells snifter.

Brew poured a deep rich black with a massive frothy foamy head that hung out for a while and left huge streaks of lace on the glass.

Nose is littered with roast and nuttiness. Robust.

Taste shows off the nose while inviting in some light dark fruit notes. The nuttiness and dark fruit are reminiscent of a strong ale, but DAT ROAST! Big bold and unapologetic. Nice chocolate and coffee notes...damn fine porter. Medium to full bodied and a touch chewy. This was a nice one from the set, very enjoyable.

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Photo of emerge077
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%

Nearly jet black with some dark mahogany edges. Dark mocha foam in spades, with lots of sticky lace. Long lasting surface coverage. 4.25

Smells rich and roasty, lots of toast, unmistakeable as a Bells beer. Somewhere between Kalamazoo and Expedition. 4

Creamy and smooth, full bodied. Roasty with a slight lingering bitterness. Slight ash and char, but mellowed. Overall pretty nice, one of my favorites of the 12, and one of the more distinctive. 4/4.25/4

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -1.5%

my last from beer camp, been saving awhile now. dark and dreamy this one, invitingly dark brown and delicate looking. the head is furiously big, light tan in color but some two inches high in my globe. nose of coffee and toffee, a very english introduction, but with some more bitter darker coffee roast too, just in lesser proportion and later on in the experience. the flavor is kind of odd, creamy like cappuccino fluff in the mouth, but not having a ton of flavor until the finish, weird in a beer style where its usually malt all the way through. the same things i smell up front i taste way late, caramel and nice hand pulled coffee. great full body and the alcohol is invisible. a beautiful winter beer, one they should definitely make again and package. bells can do no wrong for me, and this is as rich and interesting as their cream stout. one of the better beers in the beer camp box, and a great way to close it out.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Poured into a Riedel tulip glass. The liquid is a completely opaque mahogany. The pour kicks up a nice three-finger dark brown head that literally leaves one unbroken sheet of lace as it fades over the next several minutes.

Aroma is really nicely roasty - semi-sweet chocolate, coffee, little bit of peanuts, and a slight lactic tartness that gives it a wonderful milky feeling. Doesn't smell like it will be too sweet or too bitter

The taste is incredibly milky - I can't believe that this isn't called a milk stout... or that it doesn't even have lactose in it! Aside from the cream, there's lots of chocolate and coffee as well, plus some hints of dark fruit, and an ever-so-slight kiss of citrusy hops in the background. Finish is slightly bitter, making sure to keep the sweetness of the chocolate and cream in check. Wonderful balance - nice deserty flavors without being necessarily sweet, and it doesn't let itself get carried away with roasty bitterness.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick, with a moderate to high amount of soft carbonation.

Overall, it has such an incredible cream, chocolate, and coffee flavor that it's shocking that it has none of those ingredients! I really hope they bring this out again sometime, as it's really just wonderful!

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Photo of stakem
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

12oz bottle poured into a SN snifter. The brew appears dark brown to black in color with a khaki head a finger strong that leaves spotty lacing effect.

The aroma is roasty with a hint of chocolate, earth and citrus to fruity hops rounding things out. It is pleasant that this seems to be the only offering in the emtire variety pack that is not mineral laden.

The flavor includes a nice balance of roasty grain bitterness and herbal to pine-like hops. Some fruity suggestions and a nice interplay of bitterness that blends back and forth between the roast of malt and hops.

This is a medium bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. A pretty nice offering that I enjoyed despite not having a clue what style of beer it was suppose to be.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.1/5  rDev +1%

Served from the bottle into a nonic glass.

A- Poured a very dark brown with mocha colored soapy head that left some light splashy lace.

S- Lots of brown sugar and roasted malt, some coffee, chocolate, and nutty notes.

T- Huge roasted malt and coffee notes with a pretty big but not overpowering coffee bitterness. Lots of brown sugar, nutty notes, light Dr. Pepper and chocolate notes.

M- Prickly carbonation, dry, light alcohol warming, and medium to light body. The mouthfeel is that of a textbook porter. 4

O- This really drinks like a lighter but full-flavored porter or brown ale. Hard to believe it is 8.5% but a really good beer to end the Beer Camp Across America pack with.

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Maillard's Odyssey from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 1378 ratings