Serious Madness | Mad River Brewing Company

Serious MadnessSerious Madness
Liked This Beer
3.96 w/ 217 ratings
Serious MadnessSerious Madness

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by klewis on 02-26-2009

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 217 |  Reviews: 126
Photo of katybee
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep, translucent, cola brown, with a light quickly disipating creamy head. Light rim remaining.

Very light smell, mostly clean malty, light bitter hops.

Immediately a molasses tone and texture hits the tongue. Sweet; yet nicely bitter and malty, but clean, not creamy. Toasted malts, perhaps towards choc-coffee and dates, but mostly the molasses bitter-sweet breadiness. Perhaps faintly citrus hops, but malt predominates. A nice clean rich flavor, smoother than some stouts.

Medium body, smooth and definitely creamy both due to the carbonation and bready body.

Overall a nice strong beer, without any residual off tones like Guiness strikes me as having. Not overly sweet , just a hint. Very palatable!

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Photo of PorterForMe
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
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!

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Photo of meeekyh
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
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.


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Photo of chugalug06
3.61/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - WOW. Quite the lacing left behind! Nice soapy/foamy head. Head builds nice a quick; it's a straw color. Brew is jet black.

S - Serious roasty goodness. Chocolate, candy, caramel, and slight sweetness. Mild funk too,

T - Quite stout like... More of a stout than a black ale. Lacks the black ale hop. Lots of dark chocolate and caramel. A little licorice and molasses too.

M - No bitterness of you "standard" American Black Ale. Very smooth and buttery. Light bodied with great flavor.

O - Very nice brew, but doesn't fit the style at all. This should be considered a stout. Quite a nice brew, but not quite the style they were shooting for. Try it if you can find it...

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Went to Ohio for this one. Picked up a bottle for $2.99

My bottle has an abv of 8.2%

A - Nice deep dark brown with some sediment in the bottom. Very little mocha colored foamy head that turns to a small ring on the glass.

S - Has a very solid bit of charred goodness with a solid bit of smokiness. Hops are very subdued but there.

T - Actually tastes more of a balanced oatmeal stout really. Maybe a bit of smoke and a touch of roast but really smooth and drinkable with hints of chocolate.

M - Surprisingly no burn even though it's almost 9 percent. Tasty stuff.

Overall I guess this is a very balanced black ale even though I was expecting a Black IPA I was pleasantly surprised it being more roast and chocolate over bitter hops. Will have to find a fresher bottle since this one has quite a bit of yeast.

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Photo of harrymel
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep black ale with no translucency until only an ounce or so is left in the glass and tilted. single finger light mocha head falls over a few minutes to a thick sheet of the same. spotty lacing.

S: Lots of piney, resiny hops, with plenty of oat malt. somewhat charred nose, hint of coffee. Robust.

T: Reminds me of a good oatmeal stout, but with gobs of hops. Plenty bitter, with creamy and dark maltiness. the smallest hint of alcohol.

M: Heavy, healthy body on this. medium to lo carb.

O: one of my favorite black ales so far. Really nice.

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Photo of imbibehour
3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle offered at Pizza Paradiso DC poured into a tumbler.

A very simple light cococa head almost tan in color, sitting on top of a very dark brown walnut body that is opaque. There's some slight red hues around the edges.

Smell is quite interesting and unexpected. Roasted malt, and a very big presence of good coffee. There's however a sense of gas/sulfur but also some nice chocolate but also a bit of heat.

Taste though at first is like pressed coffee, but it's the body and mouthfeel that comes out the most noticeable. Extremely carbonated and prickly and very light bodied. Finish though is a nice toffee like and bit of milk chocolate. Malt finish and there is a big sense of stickyness in the palate.

Overall not too bad, just wish it had a better feel.

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Photo of shand
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
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?

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.41/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pretty much a black beer with a light brown head to it. Roasty smell.

A serious amount of bitterness. Heavy roasting. Chocolate and coffee malt probably. Very carbonated. Slight amount of metallic vibe to it. Not a lot of hop mouthfeel, just the bitterness.

A decent enough black beer, nothing complex, but it hides the alcohol well enough. Tough to really categorize the style, somewhere between a stout, porter and an ipa.

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Photo of birdypowder
3.67/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A decent black ale with an interesting and appealing aroma, good taste and nice finish. I would like to see a fuller and more complex hop aroma, maybe through an increased back end hop regime or through increased dry hopping.

Approaching jet black with a little light escaping through around the edges. Dark tan head that doesn't stick around too long and leaves minimal lacing. Clarity issues, floaters abound

Roasty and slightly chocolate, very faint whiskey aroma with some leather mixed in, becoming more interesting as it warms, slight DMS, hops contribute an herbal and earthy character that is subdued

Roast hits you first and it's astringency masks the claimed 74 IBU's and their bitterness. The alcohol is hidden well throughout. Somewhat astringent finish, though it is not overwhelming.

Surprisingly light, but good

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Photo of Bizz88
3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this black brew a little on the agressive side, smallish tan head with some lacing. An aroma of fermenting grains. Burnt semi-sweet chocolate, carmel on the tongue, sweet on top with a bitter metallic finish for this medium bodied ale, not a bad brew for a dark ale.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw this one sitting on the shelf today at Argonaut Liquors, and decided nine bucks a four pack was worth the gamble. Poured a rich, jet black color, with a little light brown head. Aromas of roasted malt, dark chocolate and earthy hops. On the palate, medium bodied, with dark chocolate, earthy hops and roasted malt.

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

12 ounce bottle a new arrival in 4 packs for $10.99 @ DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY. No freshness/bottling info offered.

Pours very dark brown, with a ruby glint or two. Mocha head that stays, low sheeting quickly goes to respectablebits of lace.

A touch of brandy soaked wood in the nose, along with roasty dark malts.

Flavoful, bold and complex brew. More brandy/wood, burnt and toasty malts, with a blast of drying hops. Nice. Dark tea, vanilla, leather and dark ripe fruit notes also picked up. Rich, smooth and milk shakey on the tongue. ABV well hidden. Well done, dark beer lovers, go get some of this fine stuff

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Dark Brown. Tan, thick head.
smell: More malt than hops. Pleasant, roasted malt.
taste: More malty roast balanced with a nice hoppy bitter finish.
mouthfeel: Medium with fairly substantial carbonation.
drinkabilty: Nice drinker. Not sure about the American Black Ale categorization?

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Photo of DovaliHops
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black with a small tan head that diminishes slowly. Scent is chocolatey with some coffee notes and a significant amount of citrus hoppiness. The nose is somewhat reminds me of Victory's Storm King. Taste however is somewhat similar, but better in my opinion. Taste is dark chocolate with some floral notes and a bit of citrus. I also get some delicious hoppiness, but not enough to label this beer a Black IPA IMO. Some tasty roasted flavor throughout all flavors of this beer. Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit creamy. Drinkability is fairly high.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, fresh 2011 batch.

Pours very dark brown with a large very foamy light brown head that leaves tons of drippy lacing and holds a nice rocky island and cap.

Aroma is roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, dark bread/toast, some herbal and grassy hops. Good strength.

Flavor is heavy on chocolate and cocoa, some coffee, roasted malts, caramel and bread with moderate sweetness followed by some citrus and pine hops lending some bitterness for balance.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, medium carbonation.

Excellent Black IPA! More on the roasted side and less hoppy and bitter than others in the style. Only picked up a single to try but will be back for a 4-pack!

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Photo of zeledonia
3.23/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From notes. Pours a dark black with a massive brown-tan head. Smell is strong, roasted malt, coffee, with alcohol kick. Taste is sharp, like a very bitter stout, with strong coffee flavor and smoky aftertaste, but a little bit overpowered by the hops. Finish is somewhat bitter and has that same alcohol kick. Mouthfeel is lighter than I'd expect, fairly smooth with good, but not overwhelming, carbonation. But the flavor is just too harsh and sharp for me to enjoy it.

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Photo of matthewalee
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 version

A - really off-black colored but with a good brown head to it. you know this beer is going to be wicked...

S - chocolate smell and lots of fruit.

T - this is a really good IPA clashing with a solid porter. I am kind of feeling a BrooDoo<-->founders porter...for midwest folk...

M - stays around for a while. sticky

D - You actually start to want to NOT put down this beer! Love the contrast of the style. Everyone should have at least a 4-pack of this stuff to enjoy because it's worth enjoying... at a medium-paaaace...


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Photo of beagle75
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Hazy, dark brown color, almost opaque, with a discontinuous residue of light beige bubbles adorning the surface. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Coffee grounds, mild and earthy umami, and some juicy tropical fruit are all detected early. Brown sugar emerges as the beer warms. No alcohol is detected in the smell.

T: Begins off-dry, with combined dark and bright fruit, spiking acidity, and some herbaceous hop aromatics that are barely-there. Dark roasted grain surges in the middle, tasting ashy and bitter. This bitterness becomes robust in the finish, with an astringent edge. No alcohol is detected in the taste.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, palate-coating yet sharply acidic early, with moderate carbonation.

D: Mark this as a malt-forward dark IPA, with an abv similar to Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous but lacking the spirited balance between malt and hop influences of that other beer. It brings more to mind a ghost from early 2010, the collaboration brew between Stone and Brewdog called Bashah. At less than half the price, this beer is a welcome alternative, if one is needed.

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Photo of julian
3.35/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: near black but not completely opaque. Nice showing of wet frothy off white head.

S: toasty, malty, roasty, definite boozy aroma on the nose

T: Big roasty flavors, A little too roasty on the finish.

M: medium high carbonation, sticky burny flavors.

D: Definitely not sessionable, but could drink a few. Not the best example of the style.

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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.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.09/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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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.

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Photo of dwilson01
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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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.

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Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 77.9% out of 100 with 217 ratings
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