Serious Madness - Mad River Brewing Company

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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 OsoRojo
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice beer, delivered as described, met my expectations quite well. did not see this listed on their web page currently, is this beer still being made? (155 characters)

Photo of chinchill
4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was poured from a 12 oz bottle at about 45-50F. Looked near perfect, with a large tan head over a black body with dark mahogany edges, The head is durable and leaves plenty of splotchy lacing.

Medium+ body; silky smooth; Light+ carbonation.

The aroma promises a load of dark malts and has hints of chocolate.and coffee.

The flavor follows. It's rich and moderately complex, with as much dark malt as I'll probably ever want. Fairly minimal burnt flavors and negligible char. Momentarily sweet, it becomes increasingly bitter going into the finish and aftertaste. Higher ABV is partially evident but well integrated and eloquant. (646 characters)

Photo of Fatehunter
2.58/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

Pours a half finger of head on a black body.
The aroma is roasted malt, sour milk and grass. It's not a great smell.
The taste starts mildly sweet, then some lemon bitterness in the middle to end. It has a milk flavor to it all.
The texture is crisp and soft around the sides.
The sour smell and milk flavor really through this beer off. (337 characters)

Photo of avalon07
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Had this beer on-tap at Gene's Haufbrau, poured into a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of tan-colored, creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Excellent lacing.

S: A nice, subtle aroma of hops, coffee, and a little chocolate.

T: Tasted of a good amount of hops, chocolate, roasted coffee, and malt. Not as hoppy as some black ales, but still pretty high. An incredibly well-balanced flavor: Coffee and chocolate have strong flavors, but they never overpower this beer.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a smooth, creamy finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A solidly made, very tasty beer. Definitely worth a try. (650 characters)

Photo of BastardKing24
4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/black with little head, but leaves plenty of lacing behind.

Smell is of dark roast and hops. Sort of muted, but its still there. Pine and cocoa dominate.

Taste is pretty good with a good kick of hoppiness, along with a decadent backbone of dark malt to give it a nice balance of Cocoa and coffee, and pine, and citrusy hops.

Feel is mild carb with a slickness that leaves the pallet wanting more.

Overall I like this but it is not up to par with the likes of wookey jack or sublimley. (507 characters)

Photo of Flounder57
4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger mocha head that reduced to a thin layer. it is a pitch black color with no clarity or vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Spotty lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Chocolate, roasted coffee, citrus, ash, and smoke.

Taste: Roasted coffee, ash, mild bitterness, mik chocolate, and citrus. Chocolate notes are similar to cocoa nibs. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium bodied, low carbonation, a little mild ash bitterness, and a little booze.

Overall: This was a very enjoyable black ale. Stout and porter characteristics with the hop characteristics of an IPA. Awesome stuff. (695 characters)

Photo of jimmah120
3.56/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle with no date

Look is a very dark cola, lots of sediment. So, bonus points for that. Smell is herbal and sweet, like a spiced tea. Some roasted malts, too. Taste clashes: metallic flavors, dark fruits, English tasting hops.

Not my favorite black ale. (263 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 jdhilt
3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a four finger dark cream head that fades slowly leaving traces of lace. Black color, no highlights. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Baked chocolate nose and flavor is baked chocolate with some roasted coffee, almost a porter. Higher ABV hidden. 12oz bottle, from Gift Specialists Oceanside, California. (320 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours a clear orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with a cocoa flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with some solid aromas and flavors. (568 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
3.69/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz Bottle from the Total Wine in Tampa FL for 3$

Appearance - Black/brown colour with a large size fizzy dark beige coloured head. It's too dark to make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 3-4 minutes.

Smell - Malts, coffee, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel and malts. There is also a light smokiness and some chocolate and some very light hops. It ends with a chocolate/coffee aftertaste and only a very faint hit off hops.

Overall – Can't find a date on this bottle.. but I have a hunch it is not at it's best. I can hardly taste any of the hop/grapefruit flavours I'd expect to find in a California Black Ale. Still a good RIS taste going on though. (779 characters)

Photo of horshack7
4.21/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: It's quite dark with a dark beige head around one finger thick.

Aroma: Hazelnut, dark fruits, espresso, vanilla bean, dark chocolate, roasted hops with some light citrus notes.

Taste: Large roasty notes notes in the front. Vanilla bean, chocolate malt, dark roasted hops that have a dry floralness. Espresso and dark coffee and a very smooth mouthfeel.

Notes: Drinkable all the way around the dry finish is a nice touch as well the hops being in the background of it all. Cheers. (494 characters)

Photo of BB1313
3.33/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with brown hues. Kakhi head that fades and leaves decent lacing. The aromas are full of roasted chocolate malts. There's hints of smoke, oak, caramel and vanilla. There's a subtle anise/black licorice notes, but it definitely doesn't dominate. Not much of a hop aroma. Flavors are loaded with dark chocolate giving it a nice bitterness. Hop bitterness is there; hop flavor not so much. But I don't really think this is intended to be a "Black IPA". This truly is a black ale. It's more reminiscent of a stout or a porter, but not quite. Very roasty. Coffee notes are there as well. Mouthfeel is somewhat thin for a big beer and there's alot of carbonation. It doesn't exactly match with the flavors, imo, but still works. Alcohol is hidden.

Starts off interesting and then becomes redundant, but it's still pretty solid. This would be good for the winter or during the colder weather. (932 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours near opaque black with a tan, finger width head. Good retention, leaving behind a nice layer of microbubbles that coats the surface. Lacing is thin and sheeting before clumping into spots on the glass.

Smell - Predominantly earth on the aroma. Chocolate mocha. Faint floral hops.

Taste - Strong roasted malt character upfront and throughout. Bitterness comes through as baker's chocolate and moderate anise character. Milk chocolate sweetness hits mid-taste before a nice, balanced finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body with moderate carbonation. Creamy at first, then turns a touch chalky and dry on the finish.

Overall - I wouldn't categorize this as an American Black Ale (or Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, whathaveyou)... it drinks just like an Imperial Stout. In fact, I think it's been completely miscategorized here, and a perfect example of why I don't like that CDA's have been renamed American Black Ale. Black Ale is a generic term for any ale that's black in color, such as this. But it's nearly 75 IBU's you say? So what. Ten Fidy comes in at 98 IBUs. CDA is not only a more unique and less confusing term, but it also pays homage to that style's localized roots... but I digress. This is a solid all-around beer. Great balance. Wonderfully drinkable. Don't expect it to be a CDA, or 'ABA'. It's not. (1,339 characters)

Photo of tdm168
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - black with a big, thick, brown head that has great retention; some sediment floating in the dark liquid

S - very faint nose; some chocolate

T - chocolate, roasted malts, black licorice, dark fruit, faint citrus, mildly bitter

M - medium bodied, well carbonated

This was a decent beer. It wasn't as hoppy as I was hoping, but the rich, complex maltiness was enough to keep me intrigued. The hops seem to get buried revealing only a slight citrusy undertone. Something a bit more bitter may have had a better chance against the depth of the malt. All in all, I did enjoy this beer, and I would recommend it to any fan of the style. (637 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: center-pour into a nonic pint: opaque black body, dense head of rich tan foam, ample lacing

S: roasted bittersweet dark malts

T: flashes of anise over sweet malt, roasted bittersweet chocolate, espresso coffee; earthy and herbal undercurrents

M: thick, chewy, bittering, crisp on the finish

O: I found this to be a very enjoyable beer, approaching a stout in character and an Imperial in strength. (404 characters)

Photo of NoLeafClover44
3.55/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. I can't find a bottling date, but the dust on the bottle neck tells me it wasn't bottled yesterday.

A - The black body is speckled with tiny cocoa colored floaters. A long-lasting finger of almond head sits on top. Good lacing.

S - Smells of rich chocolate, roasted malts, and marshmallow. Subtle and comforting aroma with little to no hops. Smells like a chocolate stout. The hops have faded from the nose if there ever were any. Nonetheless, it smells delicious.

T - Much more bitter than I would have expected from the aroma. Chocolate malts dance with bitter pine on the forefront. Some char on the back end with a lingering alcohol bite.

M - Nearly flat with a medium body.

O - I love this style and I rarely pass up an imperial black ale that I have not yet tried. This one was a bit disappointing. The aroma was very good, and the flavor decent, but the lack of carbonation ruined it for me. Without bottle dating, I won't grab this one again. (1,006 characters)

Photo of aquatonex
3.69/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black with a small head that dissipates leaving a brown ring around the beer as well as a lacing, a single sheet of tiny bubbles. Smells like hot chocolate without the hot, chocolately, earthy, and slightly sweet. Taste is not as good as it smells, but still it good. Malts are dominant, thin chocolate flavor then changes to bitter and solid alcohol notes. The flavor starts off rich but thins out and leaves you wanting a bit more. Overall, a nice smelling decent tasting beer for the ABV. (503 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 cjgator3
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle

A- Pours a dark black color with a light tan head with good retention and lacing.

S- The aroma is dark roasted malts and hops. Good aroma, just a little fainter than expected and desired.

T- The taste is bursting with flavor. Dark roasted malt and a lot of bitterness from the hops. Very enjoyable!

M- The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a perfect amount of carbonation. Perfect!

O- Overall, this is a fantastic beer that I really enjoyed! Recommended! (469 characters)

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I’m glad to digging into the black ale style a bit further. As of now, I’ve only had Stone’s adaptations, so it’ll be good to try some offerings from another brewery.

A: Pours like dark, ashy-black coffee – thick and opaque, but watery enough to give away its <10% ABV. Two finger high, moderately tan head, with a foamy, micro-bubbled texture. Retention is thin but creamy, with a protruding bump over the nucleation site. Lacing is creamy and abundant.

S: Aroma is all stout mixed with mineral water; an Americanized version of a British RIS, you might say. Caramel, mocha, and vanilla are rich and syrupy, showcasing a buttery cinnamon-pastry scent. These malts and residual sugars create a wholesome, savory darkness. Earthen minerals, with peat, roasted chocolate malt, and new leather. Light hops show some citrus, as well.

T: Pleasantly roasty: big, big char, toasted biscuits, and bourbon barrel oak. Sweet cinnamon roll with vanilla icing, brown sugar, mild toffee malts, and toasted grainy flavors dance across the tongue; not thick in any way, but playful and smooth. The bitters are mainly from the burnt nature of the palate, but a nice taste of coffee, pine, light citrus, and peppery spice. The aftertaste comes out chocolaty and a little chalky, with a resiny dryness and a finish of smoke.

M: Quite smooth; a very drinkable ale. Feels a little thin at times, but that’s to be expected from the not-too-huge flavor of the beer. Wonderfully viscous.

O: I really like this beer; it might just be my favorite black ale so far. The roasts are much larger in this example of the style, without the anise-heavy character of Stone’s brews. Mad River, you rock! (1,691 characters)

Photo of Immortale25
3.04/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Sierra Nevada tumbler. Sticker placed on the bottle by the liquor store says 3/29/2012

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/2 inch dark tan head that retains well before descending into a thick ring around the edge of the glass and light surface foam. Slippery, average lacing.

S- Dark, roasty nose that's reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate. Semisweet.

T- Deep roasted malts that are almost charred. Off-putting bitterness that kind of clashes. Booziness isn't kept in check very well either. Pretty blech.

M- A bit stingy and thick. Almost like it'd be better off just being a stout. Medium-low carbonation.

O- Only the second beer I've had by these guys and I'm not very impressed. Steelhead is all right but I'm not drinking this again. (773 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

loved this one. pours dark and thick, feels like a porter or even a stout in all categories. has a very dark roasty nose, coffee and bitter hops, like a black ipa. also some of the booze comes through in the nose. flavor is excellent, balanced dark malt and hops with a great feel. huge body but drinkable, a nice hoppy finish and an alost oatmeal stout type smoothness going down. this is one of the better mad river beers ive tried (behind only the scotch porter i think). althogh its available all year, this is a great seasonal beer for the spring nights that still have some chill. a must try, great interpretation of the style. (633 characters)

Photo of Murrhey
3.1/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Reviewed live.

A- Quarter inch tan head. Surprisingly long retention. Black body. Sticky lacing.

S- Dark chocolate, some wine or bourbon notes. It's a stronger beer and even the chocolate and coffee notes can't hide that.

T- Rich coffee notes and dark roasted barleys and malts. Deep dark flavors. Fairly nice if not a bit over roasted.

M- Very bubbly for a dark beer, but still smooth. Very dry.

O- I had anticipated a better beer. It loses me in the over roasted flavor and kind of simple feel. (548 characters)

Photo of Drinkerofales
3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black, no light penetration. A huge light mocha head is quick to dissipate, but leave tons of lacing.

Smell is of tangerine hops? WTF!? I was expecting a stout here by the look of it. Some sweet malts are in here too, with some boozy scent to round it out.

Taste is strangely mellow, some roasted malt, with a bit of citrus hop tartness on the finish.

This has some hop bite to it. There is some boozy hotness, and a very smooth finish.

Kind of a strange beer, I would drink one again if free, but not buy one again. Black IPAs are still not my thing, and this was black with huge hops, just not as much in the taste for me...

DOA (641 characters)

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