Serious Madness | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
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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

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Ratings: 217 |  Reviews: 126
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of philbertk
2.71/5  rDev -31.2%
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.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

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Photo of dbexpert
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
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!

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Photo of herman77
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of Genghis22
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

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Photo of cal82
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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Photo of bheilman
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.02/5  rDev +2%
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 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.

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Photo of atsprings
4.36/5  rDev +10.7%
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.

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Photo of Gavage
3.85/5  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.

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Photo of ZAP
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
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..

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Photo of jdense
4.17/5  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.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.53/5  rDev +15%
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.

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Photo of Natural510
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of ksimons
3.56/5  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

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
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!

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Photo of climax
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of Flashsp2
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
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

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Photo of EtOHMD
4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Serious Madness from Mad River Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 217 ratings.
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