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Serious Madness - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Serious MadnessSerious Madness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

211 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 211
Reviews: 124
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.08%
Wants: 17
Gots: 6 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 211 | Reviews: 124
Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Toronado. Perhaps the most interesting beer I had this aft there. Black wth a big soapyhead, and followed u with lace. Creamy above-Average mouthfeel. I was getting more of the black, the roastiness, though that was dominating and it was one-dimensional. More like a shwartzbier to me, although yes there were hops. Aroma was coconutty.
Had a bottle later and was just as good, with better aromas and left aftertaste.

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of GRG1313
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a thick and firm tan head; very nice looking.

Nose is of weak black chocolate with some sweetness; light licorice and hints of black cherry.

Mouth is medium bodied and nice balance.

Flavors are of bitter black chocolate and bitter coffee with a hint of sweetness; flavors develope into espresso and chocolate and get better as the beer warms.

Finish is a strong point - nice bitter black chocolate/bitter coffee finish with a hint of sweet chocolate in the first part of the finish.

Beer gets better and better as it warms.

Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very dark amber (near black) in color and has a bit of particles visible floating near the bottom of the glass when it is held up under close inspection to a bright light. It poured with a finger high creamy tan head that has excellent retention properties and consistently covered the surface and left a thick coating of bubbles down the edges of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of roasted malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the overall taste is dominated by flavors of burnt and roasted malts from start to finish. There is also a light amount of bitterness from the hops, but this is overshadowed by strong amount of malty flavors. Notes of chocolate become evident as the beer begins to warm up.
M: It feels medium-bodied, dry, smooth and somewhat crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer isn’t that difficult to drink because the alcohol content is well hidden from the taste. There’s also a good balance in the flavors—just enough hops are present to keep the malts from overpowering your palate.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

"Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule."

--Friedrich Nietzsche

Charred chestnut brown-black with generous (and gorgeous) maraschino cherry highlights. The last pour adds a murkiness that changes the beer from borderline opaque to decidedly so, while the upper one third of the glass is filled with an attractive crown of slowly melting foam the color of buttered wheat toast. Nice lace too.

There aren't too many American strong ales (the style assigned by the brewery) that are this roasted malty and this aggressively hoppy. This winter seasonal smells similar to a highly hopped Imperial porter or American stout. 74.7 IBUs is nothing to sneeze at... though I did just get foam up my nose with that last sniff.

While it doesn't taste much like an American strong ale, Serious Madness is seriously good beer. The choice of malts and the amount and choice of hops work well together. For the record: Magnum (bittering), Hallertau, Tettnang and Willamette (dry-hopping).

This winter seasonal was designed for those who are both big beer lovers and hopheads. The flavor profile includes dark chocolate-covered caramels, black coffee, bitter black tea leaves and an ale yeast fruitiness. Given the amount of citrus juiciness, it's a wonder that none of the C-hops are present.

The body/mouthfeel is built for speed, not sensory splendor. It's a little light for the style and ABV, but manages a hint of cautious creaminess with warming. The bubbles are both fine and dandy.

Mad River Serious Madness Black Ale is one delicious strong ale, especially if you're of the hopheaded persuasion. Descending into serious madness wouldn't be too awfully bad, as long as they're serving this hoptastic elixir at the asylum.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.85/5  rDev -3%
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.

Photo of largadeer
3/5  rDev -24.4%

Photo of oberon
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now this was a very interesting beer,it had alot of different stuff going on.Poured into a small tulip glass a deep cola cola color with a thinner but well retained deep tan colored head,great mix of resiny hop,mollases,and deep roast.Flavors are like a big raw porter with intensive hops,mollasses and coffee roast with resiny hop.To me this a big earthy American porter thats hopped to the hilt.I enjoyed it, although the alcohol will rear its ugly head.

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of mactrail
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Big dark mouthful with plenty hops for serious zing.

If you're telling me this is not an imperial stout... It is seriously hoppy though stops well short of the pain threshold. Apples and brandy and really, really dark chocolate. Tastes hot with alcohol though it's another welcome aspect of the complex and surprising flavors. Big on burnt malt flavor but with a hint of malt sweetness. We deserved a hint more, tho.

This is a crazy one, and I hope it stays in the rotation.

Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At the time of this review, this is the #33 American Black ale on the beeradvocate.com best of lists. Served in a goblet.

Beer is black with a big tan head of soapy big bubbles, some lacing, moderate to low carbonation.

Aroma is a little malty, mild hops, sort of boring.

Beer is sweet, a little boozy, nice malt, minimal hops, kind of tastes like a porter, a big porter, but a porter. What about this beer makes it an "American Black Ale?" I guess the label calls it that but there is close to no hops in it. As a porter though it is decent. I might have it again but I'm not excited about that possibility. I won't have trouble finishing this little bottle.

Photo of beernads
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%

Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to blutt59 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a white head. The aroma is mainly toffee and chocolate. The flavors include toffee, chocolate, roasted malts, yeast and some spices. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of GClarkage
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

Photo of wrightst
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

Photo of Gavage
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear dark brown color with a thin 1/4" head that sports some large bubbles.

Smell: roasted malts and a light fruit sweetness are most notable. A hint of bitterness comes through too.

Taste: roasted malts, mild citrus flavors, mild prunes sweetness, and a decent bitterness make up a well balanced ale. Alcohol is well hidden.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Lightly crisp throughout with some dryness late. Short aftertaste.

Drinkability: easy to consume this beer. The alcohol is so well hidden this could catch up to you if you have a few. Nice beer.

Photo of chinchill
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 211 ratings.