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Serious Madness - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Serious MadnessSerious Madness

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

198 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 198
Reviews: 124
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 10.35%
Wants: 18
Gots: 5 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: klewis on 02-26-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 198 | Reviews: 124 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beertunes


3/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured mostly black, with a bit of reddish translucence at the edges, and had a thin cap of tan head that had low retention and lacing.

The aroma was very roast forward, like a heavy Porter or light Stout, with just a faint trace of hops in the background. The flavors were similar, lots of roasted malt and just a barely discernible hop presence.

The body was well on the thin side, a bit too much actually, but I didn't gig 'em for it. Drinkability was good, but since I don't think it represents the style very well, it's hard to give it a higher score.

Overall, a decent enough beer. If perhaps you approach it as a "Light Porter" instead of a CDA, you'll have a better experience. Give it a shot and decide for yourself.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2011 03:07:38 | More by beertunes
Photo of Gehrig


4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I loped into the sterling Sun Singer to see if they had something new on their beer menu and, sure enough, Serious Madness caught my eye for I've never had it. Good call! The manager even sauntered over, which was good, for he told me that he got a case of this last year and cellared it for a year.

Dense black body with cherry trim, topped by a fat finger of light mocha froth; dense rings of lacing etched the pint glass with gorgeous decor. Nice nose, but a bit faint--some roasted caramel, a bit of coffee, but very little spice for something billed as a winter seasonal.

This is very tasty beer; very malty, a bit smoky, lots of roasted malt flavor. It almost tastes like a stout, but is smoother and easier on the palate. Lots of caramel, some toffee, a bit of coffee, and some citrus emerges in the second half as it warms. Very nice, almost deserving a higher score, but no slouch as it is.

I am surely won over by the texture, which is delightful--smooth with a touch of IPA grit in the finish, and very creamy. Although I found that the 8.6 ABV snuck up on me unusually quickly, this is very accessible. I readily ordered a second as I saw the bartender re-stocking it in the cooler.

Distinct, an amalgam of a couple styles that definitely veers toward the malty side of a Black IPA, this is REALLY good, a pleasant surprise and, I may attest, ages very well. Terrific.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2010 23:09:11 | More by Gehrig
Photo of AndyAvalanche


4.53/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2010 02:04:14 | More by AndyAvalanche
Photo of dwilson01


4.38/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2010 06:05:58 | More by dwilson01
Photo of rembrant


4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

look A Stoutish black with a fat 2 finger froth on top.
Major lace

Aroma Dark and roasty,chocolate,prunes,a hint of Sherry and coffee. Like Dark Horse Black Bier seems between Stout and Porter with a big robust thing and a tease of fruit.

Taste Here,coffee does take the lead with a bit of smokey malt,a hint of dark fruit or Sherry/Port. As the aroma hinted,this does resemble Dark Horse Black Bier,and that's pretty good,something I have often.
There's a semi-sweet lead in with the hop bitter finish posing as a dark coffee. I don't get any " Black IPA" here. Perhaps it's that when freshest. A little bit of citrus hops does hide,and emerge late to extend the finish.

Mouth Pretty thick and creamy,pretty much within the Stout zone for body with some sweet sticky on the lips.

Drinkability. Pretty beefy but tasty enough to be ready for another in a little while.

A real nice beer. Dark Cascadian, Stout,Porter,Black Beer...whatever the tag,it's the type of big and dark I tend to like and a good version.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2010 04:11:02 | More by rembrant
Photo of WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2010 20:52:25 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of philbertk


2.68/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Mad River Brewing Company--Blue Lake, CA--Serious Madness Black Ale. 8.60% ABV. 80 IBU's. Lacy tan head. Opaque dark black color. Fruity hoppy dark fruit chocolate body. Imperial Porter CDA. Dry clean end. A little too chocolate for me. (2.0 / 5.0) Sampled 5 oz. Taster @ Fremont Oktoberfest on 9/25/2010.

Serving type: on-tap

10-15-2010 00:54:58 | More by philbertk
Photo of DaveHS


4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2010 05:27:18 | More by DaveHS
Photo of dbexpert


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into SA perfect pint.

Coffee head on a dark brown beer. A solid 1" on pour, reducing over ten minutes to a 1/4". Light roasted coffee aromas are cut with a subtle citrus note. Good malt sweetness brings across a taste of maple brown bread. The alcohol is quite present but effective on balancing the sweetness.Hops are lightly bitter, creating a quite lengthy finish. Not my favorite Mad River but a good beer.

This beer has 8-9 months on it and has changed quite a bit for me. When I first had it fresh I would and did categorize it as an Imperial Black Ipa, now after seeing it's style and trying it with a touch of age it makes complete sense. This beer is an excellent example of knowing your style. As an ipa I would not have scored it as high but as a strong it ale it carries a ton of merit. This is a really good beer. Try a couple fresh and a few 9 months later. I believe this beer finds it's self with some age!

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2010 18:23:34 | More by dbexpert
Photo of herman77


4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, one shade away from black. Big creamy tan head with great retention. A little bit of dark ruby red light pokes through when held up. Lacing is more like a coating of foam left behind.

S: Roasty and chocolatey. In the background there is some minty orange hops...weird, but it smells great and complex.

T: Follows the aroma pretty well. Roasted malt and chocolate are the main staples, but again there are some spicy citrus hops in the background providing a really nice balance. This reminds me of a black IPA. The taste gets even better and more hoppier as it warms. Nice dry-malt and mildly hoppy finish

M: Medium body, feels pretty creamy from the soft carbonation. Nice.

D: ABV is really well hidden. Very good drinkability for what it is, could get dangerous easily. Seems like this should be more of a sipper, but its too tasty and balanced just right to do so.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2010 23:47:27 | More by herman77
Photo of Genghis22


4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark black with ruby highlight when held up to the light. Nice creamy tan head which slowly dissipated.

S - Rich roasty coffee malts. Slight hint of burnt grain. A touch of unsweetened cocoa powder.

T - Whoa! Big bold flavors. Coffee, molasses and hops. The hops were not very detecable in the nose, but absolutely present in the taste. A bit of alcohol, but considering the abv, not very much is detectable. Aftertaste is bitter coffee and hops.

M - Thick, sticky and chewy. Moderate carbonation. Coats the entire mouth with a syrupy deliciousness. The alcohol dries the tongue at the very end.

D - Dangerously drinkable. This is quite the tasty treat! Big, rich, bold and absolutely delicious. The abv is hidden quite well, which could be a very dangerous thing.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2010 01:14:44 | More by Genghis22
Photo of GRG1313


3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2010 05:41:01 | More by GRG1313
Photo of Mora2000


3.68/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2010 00:16:24 | More by Mora2000
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.8/5  rDev -4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-30-2010 03:54:50 | More by Sammy
Photo of cal82


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mad River, another Northern California microbrewery, not spending a whole lot of time updating their website. I picked up a rather pricey ($2.50/12 oz. bottle) 4-pack at my local BevMo.

I like technical details about my brew, and there aren't a lot here. 8.2% ABV is on the label, but nothing about IBUs or gravity. The website is likewise silent, even about the ales they bother to list there.

Foam was average, color very dark (Coca-Cola), which one would expect in a "Black Ale."

Flavor was fairly intense, although not dramatic. I'm pleased enough to try another of this brewery's ales, but not this particularly variety again. Up for future testing:

OK, after poking around a little more, I did find more information about this brew:

Serious Madness Black Ale (8.6%)
Serious Madness is an inky black brew with amber edges, Light bodied, silky smooth, complex and delicious. Not for the meek and timid this beer ferments out at a gratifying 8.6% ABV with an IBU
of 74.7

This particular Ale is part of their Artisan Reserve series. The "Double Dread Imperial Red Ale" sounds particularly intersesting.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2010 02:13:35 | More by cal82
Photo of bheilman


3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is not a bad beer, but I am influenced by the twist off cap. I am sad to say that it influences me, but it makes me think of the macros and goose island. I don't know why goose island does it either. And for the trying to be impartial review.

The beer does have a nice dark appearnace. The smell is rich with malt, caramel and a little wood. Sort of like a scent absorbed while walking through the woods in the fall. The taste is even richer with malt. Nicelt approximating a German alt style beer. If I were to describe this beer in a category, I would say dark imperial lager. The taste has the falvor of some old wood along with rich malts and a tang of hop bitterness at the end. Even with the twist off, I am appreciating this beer. It is drinkable, but I would only go for two or three. It has a significant flavor and being a pale ale/ipa man I would rotate back to my staples.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2010 01:40:42 | More by bheilman
Photo of jbertsch


4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours black, with an off-white mocha head. Lacing is substantial. Looks like a porter.

The primary aroma is smoky cocoa, which is then followed by slightly-sweet black licorice. Hops are fairly present. I was pleasantly surprised with its aromas...it definitely has character, like a cast member from Jersey Shore.

It's flavor is layered. At first it reminds me of one of my favorite milk stouts, but with added hoppy bitterness on the back end. Roasted barley and malts solidly underlie it all. You can also find notes of coffee and dark chocolate in there.

Mouthfeel is on the thick side. Drinkability is OK - it might be trying to have a 2nd or third. It's not meant for quantity sake, but drinking one is mighty enjoyable.

Grab it if you see it. It's a treat I say. Parts of it remind me of Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2010 03:00:20 | More by jbertsch
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2010 20:10:15 | More by atsprings
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2010 19:53:12 | More by Gavage
Photo of ZAP


4.43/5  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..

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2010 21:31:36 | More by ZAP
Photo of jdense


4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Toronado SFO 4.1.10, $4 a pint during pre-6pm happy hour, score!

One finger light tan head, quick dissipation with big lacing present throughout. Dark brown/black opaque body, no visible carbonation. Floral hops in the nose, roasted malt, some chocolate, pretty dry nose, didn't pick up any Belgian Yeast (described on Toronado beer board as Belgian Black IPA, couldn't find any info on Mad River website to identify style). Taste is roasted malt, coffee more than chocolate, good hop hit on back end, bittier, enough hops to hold a hophead's attention. Mouthfeel is full, heavy, not much effervescence. Drinkability for style and ABV is quite good. I'm going to try and find a bottle of this to take home. I wonder if this should be properly classified as a CDA. Recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

04-02-2010 16:48:41 | More by jdense
Photo of tavernjef


4.53/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2010 22:17:28 | More by tavernjef
Photo of Natural510


4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Impressive brown-black pour with sturdy cloud of tan head. leaves a solid ring of lacing when it finally dissipates.
Deep, dark sweet cocoa notes dominate the nose; roasted coffee bean hinted as well.
Roasted malt with caramel, coffee & cocoa notes; quite sweet with a residual, creeping hop bite. Alcohol content offers a somewhat winy quality. Dry charcoal finish.
Body is very full, much like an imperial stout.
This one is sturdy, definitely warms you up in cold weather. To be honest I'm not sure why this is not in the stout category, as it follows all similar qualities, but it's a great drink whatever they choose to call it.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2010 17:54:13 | More by Natural510
Photo of ksimons

New York

3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-very dark brown with a ring of lace around the top

S-malty, coffee, caramel, overall the smell is not very strong

T-rich roasted malts, tastes of coffee and caramel

M-rich, full body, moderate to high carbonation

D-good drinkability but probably not a beer I would seek out again

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2010 00:04:11 | More by ksimons
Photo of cpetrone84


4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-dark brown, almost black with hues of red. There is two fingers of a relatively thick darker tan colored head. There is some retention and a good lacing covering the entire glass

S-the nose is lighter but brings a dark chocolate and roasted malts, light notes of coffee and a touch of licorice.

T-burnt coffee bitterness is most prevalant with some dark chocolate coming in after. A splash of vanilla with some caramel and toffee towards the back as slighty burnt malts kick back in with a decent herbal hop presence giving way to a light hop bitterness

M-medium to full body, quite smooth and slightly dry. Good base of carbonation helps to hold sturdy throughout and you get a light creaminess in there as well.

D-this is easy drinking and drinks like a stout. It has some nice balance and all of the good roasted flavors a stout would bring. The strong ale throws me off as this is more malt forward and quite roasty. Still, very tasty brew!

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2010 01:01:37 | More by cpetrone84
Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 198 ratings.