Serious Madness - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Serious MadnessSerious Madness

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BA SCORE
88
very good

125 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 125
Hads: 212
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 8.1%
Wants: 17
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  8.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: klewis on 02-26-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 125 | Hads: 212
Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass. Cool label, lightning is on the bottle, it's a twist off cap that I didn't realize till after I opened it with a bottle opener, I tend to forget that sometimes. Pours out very nice. Deep brown with some slight amber highlights. The beer has a tan colored head that sticks around and it produces unbelievably good lacing. Pours out stoutesque, maybe a heavier porter.

Smell is good, chocolate malts and big hop aromas. Both pine and citrus. Big and bold. This beer has all the characteristics beer lovers want. It doesn't try to do anything special, just big malt and hop aromas.

The taste is also on par. A very good Black IPA that has the darker malt flavors to it followed by hops. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, but it's just a perfect balance of the flavors.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are very good. Thick and full bodied and bold with a clean biter finish.

I've really liked several beers from Mad River, and this is another addition. It's very bold and uses classic ingredients to make a very tasty beer. (1,081 characters)

Photo of tavernjef
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impressively gorgeous pour of thick dark brown that drives a huge capping of dark tan foam nealry flopping out over the edge. Settles black in the glass and the foam smoothes out and stills at a comfortable finger height always present. Lacing doesn't describe what's happening as its more of a left over coating like something leftover in a lasagna dish.

Aroma is wonderfully complex and deeply wonderous as crispy cocoa-esk roastyness is lightly wrapped in a whispy floral orangey-minty spritz of earthy hops and tea. Lots of freshly dried husks emerge as it warms adding even more complexity. Nice!

Flavor follows right behind the aroma with more fun complexities with milky cocoa, roastyness tinged with dark coffee, bitter dark chocolate, and crispy, crusty black malt. The middle slows in some dark sweetness of caramel, hazelnut, and baked blackberry. Finish has a nice grazing dry husk of roasted grains and dashing lemongrassy hops adding in a wonderful twist of citrus peels late in the returning finish.

Body is immaculatley strengthened in a bolder medium body of milky creamyness with tender sweetness scurring underneath and top sided with the dryness of coffee and dark chocolate bitterness, hovered with light husky dryness and citric earthy tea inspired hoppyness.

Ummm...Wow! This grabs hold with very nice complexities and lures you into a 'Serious Madness' to drink some more! YummmmY!

Special note: a side from its apparent labeling of style of American Strong, this has all the makings of a stronger American Porter(Impy. Porter) style in the realm of 3F Alpha Klaus. (1,594 characters)

Photo of Bighuge
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a black beer with a light brown crop of froth on top. Lacing is pretty sufficient. Aroma is nice and roasty and chocolatey. First impression on drinking is, "Wow, this is smooth." No alcohol found whatsoever in the flavor. Impressive. A very agreeable cocoa flavored base with roast and milky sweetness adding complexity. This one packs a lot of flavor in a smooth velvety texture. (Oatmeal?) Dark fruits and berries make impromptu appearances along the way as well. Good dose of hops as well. I like this one. (518 characters)

Photo of DaveHS
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my 4oz tasting snifter.

A-Charcoal black with 3/4 inch of khaki head.

S-Toffee, caramel, milk chocolate. Smells freaking delicious.

T-It hasn't even been a full year and this beer has transformed. The hops have faded out almost entirely,bringing roasted malts to the forefront. Delicious, well-balanced notes of toffee, roasted almonds and milk chocolate.

M-Medium-bodied with low to moderate carbonation.

D- It's only about $3.99 a bottle, and it's an absolute steal.I'll be looking for this in the future. (526 characters)

Photo of 1fastz28
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very black (duh) color with a bit of an off white head, after the initial pour there is very little carbonation, there is also a fair amount of sediment floating around in the beer. Smell is very rich with chocolate malt, no hop aroma, but very strong roasted/chocolate malt, smells very good. Taste is very good, its a full bodied rich beer, i'm sure just one of these is going to negate my workout i just completed but who cares, its too good to pass up. Has a nice full mouthfeel to it, and its super tasty so easy to drink. (535 characters)

Photo of Craboo
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The first thing one experiences after pouring this black beauty is the incredible aroma: cocoa, coffee, bready yeasty goodness. The taste is incredible, with flavors similar to the smell, but also with roasted malts. Smooth beyond belief, and oh so creamy. The hops keep the malt sweetness in check. My wife even loved this beer, and found that it was a great companion to a chocolate walnut cookie. Three cheers to Mad River Brewing! (434 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.44/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

interesting. black with floaty stuff all through the body?? what the heck is that? many other reviewers have questions of different sorts, it seems. no one mentions the 'floaty' stuff....
little bit of head which receded instantly.
smell is cocoa nibs, roasty and toasty coffee, some hop....
taste is dark and stout. roasty coffee. some hop bitterness.
overall, a satisfying brew. not thick like a stout, but thicker than the typical ale. not overly hoppy, but a nice blend of the malt and hop. I just cant figure out what the suspended stuff is... maybe some powdered cocoa? it does look a little like when you add cinnamon powder to the coffee or chai tea and is what is left trolling around the bottom of your mug... I had to lower my overall due to the floaty stuff... (773 characters)

Photo of ZAP
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Darb brown with ruby highlights...

Aroma of dark fruits and gummy bears...suagary....smokey molasses..

Taste is sweet candied maltiness with a nice balancing of piney/herbal hops...pretty strong bitterness on the finish.

Body is smooth, creamy, silky...medium to full...

Quality beer...It accomplished all of the following:Big, smooth, flavorful, complex, balanced, drinkable.. (381 characters)

Photo of evantwomey
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter. Tiny head, but it valiantly maintains some retention and good lacing. Color is black, real black. If you hold it to a bright light a little bit of dark brown shines through, but not much. Aroma is coffee, bourbon, roast barley, vanilla bean...very nice indeed. Taste- wow! This beer is a beauty. Big on the roasty flavors, some chocolate, with a dry finish. Almost no sweetness here. The hops creep up on you, and are mostly apparent on the finish. Mouthfeel is about right- low-moderate carbonation, not too thick. Drinkability is excellent, in fact, I think I am going to stick another one in the freezer right now.

This is a heck of a beer and I'm glad I stumbled onto this one. Definitely worth seeking out. This seems to be an increasingly popular style, and I can see why. (802 characters)

Photo of PorterForMe
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful black with a one-finger light tan head. Awesome lacing. Can't wait.

S: Holy malt batman. A plethora of sweet malt aroma with hints of licorice and slight hoppiness.

T: Delicious. Sweet caramel and toasty chocolate with great alcohol balance and a hint of hops. Only thing I would ask for is a slightly stronger hop profile in an ABA.

M: Somewhat chewy for an ale; more like a stout (I'm not complaining). Solid carbonation

O: This is a great beer. Maybe a touch too sweet and a little lacking in hops, but that is nitpicking this tasty brew. Give it a shot! (582 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

04/10/09- Purchased at Whole Foods in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, late 2008 or early 2009 winter release. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Very black in color. About a 3/4 inch very creamy soft looking head. Settles at a 1/4 inch creamed rim. Lacing is quite nice with some larger patches and streaks.

Smell- Lots of malt..chocolate-caramel malt to be specific. Hops are present, but malt takes the cake. Stong with notes of dark fruits and a touch of alcohol.

Taste- Likin' it! Don't know what the hell kind of beer it is, but I do really like this. It is very creamy, just as the label states. It's also very hoppy and quite strong. So, I'm thinking imperial schwartzbier? But, hold on, it's got plenty of sharp fruity hops as well....hmmm, imperial stout, maybe baltic porter? But, it's dam soft and creamy and at times quite dry...imperial Irish Dry Stout? I'm stumped. I guess Strong Ale it is. Overall, very flavorful malt with chocolate notes, quite roasted, but not quite burnt. And the hops are fresh and flavorful as well.

Mouthfeel- Very creamy, at times very dry, also makes you salivate for more at times....very odd. Mid to lower carbonation level. Kind of a chocolate-hoppy aftertaste.

Drinkability- I've already tried to find more of these after I snagged the one bottle out of a four pack for $2.49. Worth every penny...would do $10 for a 4 pack any day of the week. (1,410 characters)

Photo of bitterthebetter
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours an absolute murky black with brown undertones and a frothy tan head

rich malty aroma full of chocolate malt, caramel, slight spice, floral hops, pine notes, and faint sugary notes

super smooth malty body with milk leading to bittersweet chocolate, candied sugar, molasses, cake notes, and caramel lead to the hops which vary from floral, spicy, dry, piney, and slightly lemony on the smooth finish

surprisingly smooth body with solid malt notes leading to subtle and smooth balanced hops without the malt being too sugary or overbearing and the hops are ever prevalent yet crisp and balanced

smooth, inviting, delicious, balanced, layered, and downright unique its by far the best 'black' beer I've had. the solid malt body blends extremely well with the sturdy yet light hop notes and there is no trace of the alcohol. its rich yet not over the top and with plenty of layers to dig through it was an absolute joy to drink this beer. I will definitely be getting more (977 characters)

Photo of rkuhnel
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this in a four pack at my local NorthCoast Coop. It poured as its name implies, black with a big tan head that left heavy lacing rings as it slowly settled. So what is it really? Seemed heavier than a brown. There is currently no style for Black Ale though maybe there should be. So this is an American Strong Ale for lack of anything better. Not quite fair. Maybe Black Ale should be a style.

In any case the nose was of roasted malts with chocolate and a little coffee. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. Flavor very rich as well and there is some biitterness in the finish. I liked this new brew a lot. I drank a second bottle a few degrees warmer and it was even better. (678 characters)

Photo of dwilson01
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz into my arrogant bastard pint glass, a dark mocha colored head tops the brew perfectly to the rim of the glass. It's creamy and dissipates slowly leaving nice lacing on the sides. The body is dark, just a slight tint of dark embery red on the edges when held up to the light.

The smell is very intense and thick, I get a ton of roasted malt which give it a coffee type flavoring with just a hint of bitter dark chocolate. The hopping is very distinctive, floral and citrus in the forefront adding a little fruitness to that malty assault.

The flavor is awesome, really no other way to describe it but I can try...The malty flavors that come out are a smooth sweeter molasses and roasted coffee along with a slight smokiness to it. Reminds me much of a smoked porter. But at the same time while all that is going on the hops are providing a woody hop to the front and giving you a small bitter kick near the end before the sweeter malty reinstates itself in the aftertaste. Very balanced and extremely complex in flavor, I am definitely a fan.

The mouthfeel is just to my liking, smooth, creamy, and thick with maltiness, and refreshing with a lighter hoppy feeling of an ipa. Great job here with this brew, it's a sipper due to its immense amount of flavor but I feel like I could sip and contemplate it all day if I wanted. (1,347 characters)

Photo of atsprings
4.36/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Flying Saucer served in a tulip glass an almost opaque not-quite black with a decent frothy light tan head that lasts and leaves great lacing on the glass. Aroma is an interesting blend of sweet malts, dried fruits and Earthy hops. The taste is a very complex blend of many flavors including dried fruits, bitter cocoa, Earthy hops, burnt caramel, mild roasted malts and mild coffee and just enough spice to have me wondering if this should be classified as a Belgian style. The beer is somewhat heavy, but not too overbearing, it certainly would be better enjoyed in the Winter than on a 70 degree Spring afternoon. I must say, this is a very enjoyable and intriguing beer that I would love to have again. (716 characters)

Photo of TPatuto
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pretty black, with a brownish hue around the edges of the glass. No real head to speak of. A light film over the top.

S - Good + Strong Coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt. Smells got stronger as the beer warmed.

T - Flavors were much the same. Coffee was dominant. Cocoa/Roasted malt. A very faint ash at the end. A very porter like flavor profile.

M - Medium to heavy. smooth and clean. No heat detected.

D - Very drinkable. Very enjoyable. No bitterness on the finish. The flavor gets you with a quick jab of coffee at the finish, which made me want more.

A beer that I really enjoyed. Thanks to ipa247 for getting me this one. (657 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark cola pretty much black color with a light beige tan head forming thick with fine speckled lacing. Aroma has faint citrus herabal hops amongst a nice dark fruit and dark roasted malted barley back drop. Dark chocolate with hints of coffee and anise in the nose, herbal citric hops are subtle but interwoven in both flavor and aroma. Dark roasted chocolate dry bitterness on the palate hints of dark roasted coffee accents, with hoppy underpinnings this is a nice Black IPA. Mouthfeel is medium bodied dry bitter finish between hops and malts alcohol well hidden. Moderate carbonation goes down extremely smooth on the palate slight trace hop oils make it sort of slick. Drinkability overall is a smash hit in my mouth nice dark ale qualities that don't fight with the hop profile a well executed version of a hard to do style. (830 characters)

Photo of shand
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a nonic.

This pours super black, no tinges of brown or anything. A tiny off-white head crests the brew and stays there for quire some time. The aroma is super-roasty, and the taste follows that. It's full of roasted malts, chocolate and coffee, with a nice, fairly subtle hop kick that comes in on the finish. Alcohol is completely masked, this is a good brew, but I really wouldn't consider it to taste like a black IPA.

The mouthfeel is full, thick, and creamy, and the drinkability is quite good for it's ABV. Black IPA? I'm not so sure. This almost tastes a lot more like a hoppy imperial stout. That said, it's hoppier than any imperial stout I've had so far. It's also crazy delicious. Imperial black IPA, perhaps? (754 characters)

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting for this one to come in. The beer pours black with a three finger thick head that settles very slowly. Lacing is excellent, and head retention is everlasting.
The smell consists of some roasted malt, with molasses and rasin, along with a bit of brown sugar.
Taste is amazing. Roasty, with hints of chocolate, coffee, and well done toast, along with dried fruit. The finish is quite hoppy, with some fruity and floral notes.
The mouthfeel is a bit thin and short-lived, but very clean nonetheless.
Drinkability? Yes indeed! For the strength of this brew, one cannot even detect any booziness. Mad River has continued to amaze me with every beer I try. They may be one of the most underrated breweries in America. (736 characters)

Photo of meeekyh
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This bottle went into a Hennepin glass.

The ale is very dark, as advertised. Head it tall, thick and deep tan.

Smell is hoppy and there is a hint of toasty.

Taste is clean, dry, bitter and refreshing.

I note chocolate bitterness and a tiny bit of piney hops. The mouthfeel of the beer is so light and clean that it is surprising, as is the extreme drinkability. Downright dangerous at 8.6%.

I really like this beer. It is awesome in many ways and reminds me of my first experiences with the Guiness export as a kid (adult kid if you like).

Get some.

Slainte! (566 characters)

Photo of Flashsp2
4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serious Madness 12oz into snifter

Moderate pour gives a cola brown/deep mahagony translucent (near
thinner parts) body and a one half inch tan head of creamy bubbles

The layers of malt are apparent in the nose even from a good distance.
Roasty, toasty, grainy, cigarette ash, chocolate. Very intricate and
beguiling. It draws me in.

Palette fits the nose well, bringing some bitter chocolate, roasted
malt, some leafy hop, stale cigar, and whole wheat crust. Finish is
dry and a touch on the bitter side. A touch of pine needle from the
hops, mainly peeking through at the end.

Mouthfeel is moderat with a crisp carbonation. A bit thin for the ABV,
but this beer seems very well attenuated, not much heavy sweetness is
left.

This is tasty and drinkable. This sample seems to have a bit of an odd
aftertaste that I don't recall picking it up before, so I'll let it
slide. (875 characters)

Photo of djeucalyptus
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours the color of Kahlua, building to a murky, chocolaty inky black that lets almost no light through. Chocolate and hints of orange at the edges up to a light. A one finger cream colored head has fair retention and leaves behind spots of lacing here and there.

aroma of heavy roasted malt with a good bit of coffee. dark cocoa, a bit of dark chocolate, and a bit of musty earthy malt. Coffee grows stronger as it warms, as do all the aromas. Complex and delicious once it's at cellar temp.

A surprisingly complex taste is hidden amongst the darkness. The dark roasted malt leads, but is augmented with some fresh, green hops and an interesting fresh alcohol. Fresh herbal and floral hops grow as it warms, as does the clean warming alcohol. Fresh yet well-roasted... interesting. and delicious.

Moderate body with some nice carbonation. The color makes me anticipate full-bodied stout mouthfeel, which this isn't. After remembering it's a "black ale," it seems to work nicely. Not too thin, not too carbonated, neither slick nor syrupy. A lingering bitter malt finish with a healthy dose of hop bitterness to finish it off is great.

I realize Strong Ale is a catch-all category, but this one doesn't quite fall into what I generally imagine as a strong ale... an interesting conundrum for which I have no answer. All I know is the roasted qualities, the strong hop qualities, and the smoothness and light crispness all combine to make a stellar brew that I could drink a few more of easily... plus, the 8.6% is barely detectable, save for a bit of great boozy flavor notes. All in all, definitely worth trying. (1,616 characters)

Photo of Danny1217
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours black, letting very little light through. A small tan head with good retention.
Smells nice and roasty. Some nice earthy scents, but the roasted malts dominate.
Tons of flavor in this one. Roasted coffee, caramel, and a nice hoppy bite at the end. Almost like a stout with just a bit of an IPA character. It's got some bunch too, at 8.2% ABV. Full bodied, somewhat light carbonation.

This black ale gives sublimely self-righteous a run for its money as far as I'm concerned. Mad River has to be one of the most underrated breweries in the world. (553 characters)

Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A vigorous pour yields two fingers of light-tan head on top of a black body with ruby highlights. The foam settles down to a thin layer of tight bubbles and leaves nice lace.

S - A light aroma of roasted malt and caramel with a hint of licorice. Some barely perceptible pine hops and a hint of chocolate.

T - Bittersweet chocolate and coffee up front with lots of dark caramel. Some licorice and nutty malt notes in the middle. Moderate pine hops kick in with stiff bitterness that thoroughly balances the malt. The malt becomes darker toward the finish with more intense coffee notes and very dark, baker's chocolate notes. Some smoke and chicory linger on the palate with spicy, cigar tobacco notes of hops blending with roasted malt.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Very nice, I'm quite impressed with this. There is a lot going on here in terms of dark malt, though it isn't just the roast stuff; there is plenty of carmel and toffee as well. What really makes the beer work is the inclusion of significant hop bitterness and flavor that, while not strong enough to turn it into a black IPA, balances the beer and brings out the best in the dark malt. A drinkable and complex beer, highly recommended. (1,248 characters)

Photo of Anaom
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow. Not normally a dark beer kinda guy but I love Mad River so I picked up a 4 pack.

The color even when held to light still looked dark and black.
Nice 1 finger head and some solid lacing.

Roasted malt is the initial aroma here with no hops to be found. Which is suprising as once you drink this you get the ever so subtle hop flavor that is well balanced. Nice clean and dry finish that leaves me coming back for more. Drank of my 4 pack in one night. Definitely going back to the store for more. (501 characters)

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Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 125 ratings.