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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

206 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 206
Reviews: 125
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 10.33%
Wants: 18
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: klewis on 02-26-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 206 | Reviews: 125 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of atsprings
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

atsprings, Apr 22, 2010
Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

Gavage, Apr 21, 2010
Photo of ZAP
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
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..

ZAP, Apr 03, 2010
Photo of jdense
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

jdense, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of tavernjef
4.53/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

tavernjef, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of Natural510
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Natural510, Mar 29, 2010
Photo of ksimons
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
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

ksimons, Mar 27, 2010
Photo of cpetrone84
4.05/5  rDev +2%
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!

cpetrone84, Mar 25, 2010
Photo of climax
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This dark and perhaps clinically insane brew poured a very dark brown, with a slightly purple hue. The large mocha head was fairly large and dissipated rather lazily.

The nose was nicely hopped, which stood out more than I was anticipating. Nice mint chocolate and ripe fruit aromas dominated. Cinnamon, brown sugar, and banana notes followed in the shadows.

The flavor was more more roasty than the aroma. Dark chocolate and coffee stole the show. Ripe fruit and tannin helped add depth, while that same intriguing mint chocolate goodness lingered through the dry finish.

Lots of carbonation, the feel was very sharp... madness if you will. The body was on the full side of medium, and all faded to a dry finish.

Serious madness is worth a shot, serious. I was able to salvage my sanity, however.

climax, Mar 19, 2010
Photo of mactrail
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

mactrail, Mar 16, 2010
Photo of Flashsp2
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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

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

Flashsp2, Mar 15, 2010
Photo of EtOHMD
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Caught my eye as a black ale and I was not disappointed.

Pours black with chocolate colored creamy head which fades. Slightly maroon at the edges. Very inviting. Aroma is of malt, caramel, not too strong. Taste is very good. Roasted, malty, coffee. Feel is initially creamy and long lasting but then leaves a dry, ? effervescent aftertaste / feel that is my only negative about this beer. Very drinkable.

EtOHMD, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of SkeeterHawk
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked this beer up at Knightly Spirits as I was on my way out of town, and I am really glad that I did.

Appearance: Pours a very black color with a lasting head of off white bubbles that seem to linger around forever because of the (I assume) lots of bubbles rising to maintain the head. When held to the light, it has a deep garnet hue and is actually pretty clear.

Aroma: Some chocolate with a little bit of roast. There is some hops in this beer, but it is reserved by comparison to other styles. As the beer warms, the chocolate is coming out more as well as a spicy contribution from the alcohol. As the beer sits some, I notice a bit more of the roast coming out to play with the chocolate.

Taste: The flavor is very malty with lots of chocolate and toasty notes. There is a defined presence from the alcohol that adds spice to the flavor and warmth to the finish. There is a good bit of fruitiness to this beer and seems to be contributed as much from the darker grains as the yeast. The finish is balanced by the hops and dark grains, and lingers on the palate for quite some time to finally let the malty sweetness shine though with the alcoholic warming.

Opinion: This is a really nice beer. I like the malt complexity and the overall presentation that is created by the alcohol and yeast characteristics that contribute to the malt. I am definitely becoming a fan of the Black Ales, and this one is no exception. I would definitely drink this beer again and I am a tad sad that it isn't available in Houston.

SkeeterHawk, Mar 05, 2010
Photo of gregalobeer
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: very dark, completely opaque, head develops quickly then drops quickly leaving just a thin lacing

S: can't smell much of anything tonight, just me

T: caramel, very dark roasted malts, alcohol, burnt toast, the taste is too short lived is my only complaint

M: very smooth

I liked it a lot. I didn't love it, but probably just because I'd rather have a porter. This beer is a bit sweeter but also more balanced (less bitter) than other black beers I've had. The flavor is subtle and while pleasant disappears to quickly.

gregalobeer, Mar 02, 2010
Photo of Bighuge
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

Bighuge, Feb 24, 2010
Photo of Anaom
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

Anaom, Feb 12, 2010
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

oberon, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of Craboo
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
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!

Craboo, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of WYVYRN527
4.35/5  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.

WYVYRN527, Jan 23, 2010
Photo of natelocc787
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Really good Shwartzbier with the alcohol hidden amazingly well. Could not believe this beer is 8.6%, could pass for 4% if you look past the heavy mouthfeel. Roasted vanilla and mildly burnt milk chocolate in the nose. Has a distinct Black ale flavor with a thicker, chewier mouthfeel and a nice vanilla bean backing that sweetens the burnt character nicely and adds complexity. Small flecks of sediment are seen but not tasted.

natelocc787, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

BuckeyeNation, Jan 10, 2010
Photo of WeisGuy
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a - pours a deep brown with burgundy highlights, thick one-inch tan head with great retention and lacing

s - dark roasted malt and cocoa powder on the nose, slight hoppiness and boozy notes

t - very smooth roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors dominate, like the aroma, only a slight hoppiness on the finish with very muted bitterness, well-balanced and well-integrated flavors, alcohol is very slight in the taste

m - full-bodied, medium-carbonation, well-balanced finish, not much alcohol warming

d - moderately drinkable because of the smoothness of the flavors and its easiness on the palate

WeisGuy, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Notes:

12oz bottle from Wasatch.

A: Very dark beer, dark brown, light brown accents, sand colored head, 1/4 inch thick, not much retention, just a few islands of bubbles, not much lacing. Nice looking beer though.

S: Chocolate and roasted coffee, roasted malts, strong booze, not overpowering though. Just a hint of hops.

T: Chocolate roasted malt, coffee aftertaste, has some plum flavors, brown sugar and nice hop bitterness. A little booze. Excellent lingering bitterness.

M: Medium body, warm alcohol, a little prickly on the carbonation not bad, just a little more carbonated than I'd like.

D: Fairly easy to drink and just enough of everything, nice balance of flavors. I could easily drink a few of these in a session. A little strong, but its perfect for a cold winter night.

Thanks John!

pokesbeerdude, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of 1fastz28
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

1fastz28, Dec 08, 2009
Photo of RedBrewer83
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip...

A: Pours a dark black body with a two finger creamy tan head. Leaves nice lacing as it dissipates to a thin foam.

S: Wonderful aroma of roasted caramel malt, chocolate, mocha, faint hops and brown sugar and molasses.

T: Very similar to the aromas, mocha coffee and chocolate on the front palate, the hops kick in mid palate with a faint kick of pine resin that fades into a finish of tobacco and molasses.

M: Medium body that is just a little too carbonated for my taste, but still fairly smooth, the 8.6% is very well integrated and undetected in the mouth feel.

D: Very drinkable, not overly strong for an 8.6% strong ale...goes down fairly smooth. Overall this is a very good beer, not great, but very good and recommended.

RedBrewer83, Oct 27, 2009
Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 206 ratings.