Serious Madness | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
126 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 126 | Ratings: 217
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very nice beer that I almost overlooked in the store. Pours a very dark brown with a big rocky head that takes a while to settle down. Smells creamy and roasty with notes of fresh cream and Baily's, and a light sweet roastiness. Pretty nice taste. Rich and creamy with coffee, chocolate, and a light roastiness. Slightly sweet, but with a lingering citrus rind bitterness as well. Almost drinks like an alcoholic chocolate malted in the mouth- smooth, creamy, sweet, and almost unctous, but with a bitter finish that saves it from being too one dimensional. I was surprised by how especially nice this beer was.

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Photo of jdskinns
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Just gave this one a shot. Before pouring noticed lots of yeast buildup on around the bottom of the bottle. Poured with a decent thick, darker than I expected head, a light tan color. Beer itself was deep in color and I could smell that it was going to be roasted malty goodness. Taste completely backed up the smell. This is a really good beer, the malt flavor is just awesome and the body is no let down. Definitely recommend picking up this winter seasonal.

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Photo of Vancer
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The madness begins with an almost coal black pour of ale into the Bitburger glass from the 12oz twist-off stubby bottle. Frothy milkshake of tan head resting on top, leaving plenty of laces.

More chocolate milkshake in the aroma, with a touch of espresso. Figs, plum and more malt in the quaff. Toasted dough and charcoal in the finish. A lot going on here - it's a RIS, black beer, porter and winter brew all mixed into one.

Damn rich brew, the 8.6% is nowhere to be found. Easy drinking, even in the STL summer heat.

Bit pricey at $2.50 a bottle though.

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Photo of abrand
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into pint glass

A- pours an opaque black with nice 2 finger head. nice carbonation

S- Nose is malts, nuts, coffee, and hints of sweet chocolate.

T- Taste is malt, chocolate and bitter hops.

M- Medium bodied

D- Fairly high. Taste is right on queue and alcohol is not over-powering. Good beer from a brewery that is fairly new to me.

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Photo of illidurit
3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours brownish black with mahogany highlights. Not really black enough to be called a 'black ale.' Big fluffy tan head that cascades upwards and sticks on the glass. Aroma is big on roasted malts with a little chocolatiness, but there's also a rather obnoxious metallic/ferrous note. Flavor is stoutish; there's a solid roasted malt taste with coffee and dark chocolate notes. The metallic aroma is diminished in flavor but not eliminated. Maybe a little piney hoppiness in the finish, but this is not a hoppy beer. Body is actually on the lighter side of medium, and the carbonation is soft and airy. Pretty drinkable and tasty but it doesn't seem like they got enough robustness for the amount of alcohol. Still, one of Mad River's best.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice black color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger plus creamy tan head, with some nice thick sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some hops, chocolate/toffee notes. The taste is malty, sweet, hoppy, slightly bitter, with some choco/toffee notes. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a very nice ASA, recommended.

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Photo of thryn
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Super-dark almost black brown, with the most amazingly creamy head I've ever seen. Thin, looks like the crema on a great espresso, but lighter. Gorgeous.

Tons of malt, some coffee and some smoke in the nose. Extremely appetizing.

Damn, this is delicious. Coffee like whoa. Lots of vanilla, caramel and chocolatey malt. Bitterness is faint, but it's not too sweet either, so there's enough to balance. Not boozy at all.

Creamy, but not overly heavy. Mild carbonation.

Great beer. Could easily put away two or three of these in colder months.

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Photo of Offa
4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a characterful, somewhat compelx beer with plenty of flavour, fairly assertive, but reasonably balanced and restrained, if just a bit too strong.

Deep red brown, almost black, it has a huge pale tan head slowly shrinking to a medium, lasting, frothy, rocky head and leaving nice frothy rings of lace.

The aroma is rich porter with chocolate, prunes, a smooth but fairly strong roastiness, caramleised prunes, whole wheat crust. it seems sweet, rich, and very nice.

The taste is similar to the aroma but has a little roughness and slightly overly assertive bitterness. It's very toasty with dry coffee, bitterweet chocolate, sweet caramleised prunes, spicey anise and black pepper. It has rich flavour and sweetness along with a lingering, spicey bitterness. The bitterness, though, is just a bit too asssertive and lingers a bit too long, bringing down drinkability of an otherwise very good beer.

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Photo of flexinwext
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very dark black porter-esque looking with a nice fluffy tan head. Very fragrant, coffee and some berry aromas. So far this is shaping up very interesting. This is a winter seasonal in June so I hope nothing has left this beer in taste. Very delicious. I don't know if the age has taken some off this beer, but the balance between roasted coffee/chocolate and sweetness is great. Along with its creaminess this is very warming on these chilly June evenings. Only thing hurting this is its high ABV. This one will be a sipper.

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Photo of Drew966
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serious Madness pours an opaque black with a thick tan head that laces nicely as it fades. The aroma is quite nice, malty and fruity. The flavor is almost stout like, roasted malt, especially in the aftertaste is prominent. The bottle calls it a black ale, but whatever you call it, I like it. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of Tone
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with lighter dark brown hues along the bottom of the glass. 1/3 inch head of a pale tan color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, alcohol, some brown sugar, slight hops, and maybe some raisins. Fits the style of an American Strong Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and thick with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt up front, then alcohol comes through next, slight hop in the background, and some slight coffee flavors in the finish. A more strongly roasted malt American Strong Ale than I've had before but nonetheless a good brew.

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Photo of evantwomey
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter. Tiny head, but it valiantly maintains some retention and good lacing. Color is black, real black. If you hold it to a bright light a little bit of dark brown shines through, but not much. Aroma is coffee, bourbon, roast barley, vanilla bean...very nice indeed. Taste- wow! This beer is a beauty. Big on the roasty flavors, some chocolate, with a dry finish. Almost no sweetness here. The hops creep up on you, and are mostly apparent on the finish. Mouthfeel is about right- low-moderate carbonation, not too thick. Drinkability is excellent, in fact, I think I am going to stick another one in the freezer right now.

This is a heck of a beer and I'm glad I stumbled onto this one. Definitely worth seeking out. This seems to be an increasingly popular style, and I can see why.

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Photo of TPatuto
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pretty black, with a brownish hue around the edges of the glass. No real head to speak of. A light film over the top.

S - Good + Strong Coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt. Smells got stronger as the beer warmed.

T - Flavors were much the same. Coffee was dominant. Cocoa/Roasted malt. A very faint ash at the end. A very porter like flavor profile.

M - Medium to heavy. smooth and clean. No heat detected.

D - Very drinkable. Very enjoyable. No bitterness on the finish. The flavor gets you with a quick jab of coffee at the finish, which made me want more.

A beer that I really enjoyed. Thanks to ipa247 for getting me this one.

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Photo of Overlord
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mad River is a notoriously underrated brewery, IMHO. The only serious knock against them is the lack of "born on" dating. While I love many of their brews, for whatever reason about half the stuff I get from them is noticeably past its prime.

In any event:

Pours a dark, rubyish black brown. Yeah, I went with three colors in one there. Aggressive pour yielded a thin film of bubbles that coalesced into a genuine miasma.

Smells like roasted caramel malt and ... hops? Is that citrus hops? Very intriguing.

Taste is definitely on the roasty side, with caramel, but also a nice burnt bitterness. The hops are there, but more muted than in the nose. Some acrid pine and a splash of grapefruit. Maybe a tiny bit, just a bit of coffee. Perfectly thick mouthfeel, just enough carbonation.

Quite good. Too bad I had to special order it.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"From the Heart of Humboldt" comes Serious Madness. Duh. Poured from a twist-off topped stubby into a large tulip glass, the brew reveals itself to be matte-black with mahogany-tinted edges and fixes a fluffy two-finger cap of pale beige foam atop the opaque liquid. The head stands firm and collapses very slowly, depositing a fine webby film of lacing onto my glass.

Fruity malts, mild chocolatey caramel, and candylike alcohol dominate the nose, with just a touch of spicy pepper thrown in for good measure.

The taste is rich and mellow with notes of soft malty caramel, semisweet chocolate, and a splash of alcohol that masquerades as juicy red apples spritzed with plum juice. Bitterness arrives late and in the form of charred grain, the charcoally sweetness-eliminator lingering deep into the aftertaste, accompanied by a dusting of cocoa and a smattering of drying alcohol.

Serious Madness is seriously good beer. The drink is firm-bodied and creamy with excellent carbonation, and its drinkability factor is limited only by the potent ABV.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.37/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours a good looking cola/ruby with a solid finger of light tan foam. Nice stick as the head recedes.

Aroma - light caramel and toasted grain. I may be a little nasal impaired tonight but thought I would pick up more than I did here.

Taste - lots of roast character to the malt. Some hop bite on the swallow, not much flavor to it though. Abv presence on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - smooth, quite crisp, with a medium to medium-plus body.

Drinkability - sort of am 'imperial Schwarz', I guess. I'll age one or two just for kicks, but these drink nicely.

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Photo of nlmartin
3.65/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black ale vs porter I dont know but I like it. The beer was served chilled in an Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: The beer pours black with a chestnut brown colored opaqueness to the light. The head is a dark tan coloration. The head retention is pretty good. Thick concentric rings of lace mark the beers passage from my glass.

Smell: The beers aroma is a melange of pine resin, floral notes, a bit of coffee and a nutty cocoa combination.

Taste: The beers primary flavor is pine resin hops. This combines well and is supported by a bitter sweet cocoa and dark roasted malts. Nice finishing bitterness.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The beer has a nice medium body. The carbonation levels work well with the beers general character. Overall a nice and repeatable beer drinking experience.

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Photo of ccrida
4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic, Serious Madness is murkey, blackish dark garnet with a very creamy tan head that leaves heavy lace.

Smell is chocolate like malt, with a light roast, a little alcohol as well, which I could do without, but still, it's very good.

Taste is good, a chocolaty porter, pretty strong, but clean alcohol character. I guess this is like a Baltic porter, which is a style I really enjoy. Simple but killer, this will be an especially great ager I'd guess!

Mouthfeel is smooth, pretty creamy, medium bodied.

Drinkability is pretty good, I really like chocolate flavored porters. The ABV is well hidden behind the clean richness, and overall, it's an good beer now with great potential.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Serious Madness Black ale poured like an oatmeal stout. It had a quick dissipating foam head with some tight sticky lacing.

The smell was sweet caramel smell with hint of chocolate. It is listed on the bottle as a black ale. It is good tasting with a solid chocolate taste and strong bitterness on the back end. With that abv up to 8.6 it leaves a nice burn on the finish. Overall I found it to be a solid brew and would buy again.

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Photo of bitterthebetter
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours an absolute murky black with brown undertones and a frothy tan head

rich malty aroma full of chocolate malt, caramel, slight spice, floral hops, pine notes, and faint sugary notes

super smooth malty body with milk leading to bittersweet chocolate, candied sugar, molasses, cake notes, and caramel lead to the hops which vary from floral, spicy, dry, piney, and slightly lemony on the smooth finish

surprisingly smooth body with solid malt notes leading to subtle and smooth balanced hops without the malt being too sugary or overbearing and the hops are ever prevalent yet crisp and balanced

smooth, inviting, delicious, balanced, layered, and downright unique its by far the best 'black' beer I've had. the solid malt body blends extremely well with the sturdy yet light hop notes and there is no trace of the alcohol. its rich yet not over the top and with plenty of layers to dig through it was an absolute joy to drink this beer. I will definitely be getting more

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Photo of djeucalyptus
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours the color of Kahlua, building to a murky, chocolaty inky black that lets almost no light through. Chocolate and hints of orange at the edges up to a light. A one finger cream colored head has fair retention and leaves behind spots of lacing here and there.

aroma of heavy roasted malt with a good bit of coffee. dark cocoa, a bit of dark chocolate, and a bit of musty earthy malt. Coffee grows stronger as it warms, as do all the aromas. Complex and delicious once it's at cellar temp.

A surprisingly complex taste is hidden amongst the darkness. The dark roasted malt leads, but is augmented with some fresh, green hops and an interesting fresh alcohol. Fresh herbal and floral hops grow as it warms, as does the clean warming alcohol. Fresh yet well-roasted... interesting. and delicious.

Moderate body with some nice carbonation. The color makes me anticipate full-bodied stout mouthfeel, which this isn't. After remembering it's a "black ale," it seems to work nicely. Not too thin, not too carbonated, neither slick nor syrupy. A lingering bitter malt finish with a healthy dose of hop bitterness to finish it off is great.

I realize Strong Ale is a catch-all category, but this one doesn't quite fall into what I generally imagine as a strong ale... an interesting conundrum for which I have no answer. All I know is the roasted qualities, the strong hop qualities, and the smoothness and light crispness all combine to make a stellar brew that I could drink a few more of easily... plus, the 8.6% is barely detectable, save for a bit of great boozy flavor notes. All in all, definitely worth trying.

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Photo of rkuhnel
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this in a four pack at my local NorthCoast Coop. It poured as its name implies, black with a big tan head that left heavy lacing rings as it slowly settled. So what is it really? Seemed heavier than a brown. There is currently no style for Black Ale though maybe there should be. So this is an American Strong Ale for lack of anything better. Not quite fair. Maybe Black Ale should be a style.

In any case the nose was of roasted malts with chocolate and a little coffee. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. Flavor very rich as well and there is some biitterness in the finish. I liked this new brew a lot. I drank a second bottle a few degrees warmer and it was even better.

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Photo of HalenRush
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought it at Playstation 777 - Blue Lake Casino...A stones throw away from Mad River Brewery.

A - Pours a tan, moderately beaded head that dissipates quickly with light blackness and deep ruby on the edges.

S - I have nothing to say here. I'm on the tail end of a cold and haven't been able to smell anything for two weeks.

T - Huge Carafa showcase with raisin and slight woody taste. Carton claims 75 IBU's, but they are held back by roasty Carafa malt. Low hop bitterness even though Magnum was used.

M - Roasty bite at first, but gives way to ethanol.

D - Hey, a black ale. Becoming popular and I had two. I would have had 3 but another new brew was in the fridge waiting for me. Drinkable for the bold, a 4-pack will ruin you.

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Photo of DrewOSU
3.89/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at "Root Cellar" in Cincinnati, OH:

A: Pours root beer brown with huge, billowy, carbonated,1 inch, tan head. Large, silk lacing coats the glass on first pour.

S: A roasted nose with hop undertones. Not a big nose on this beer.

M/T: Medium body, good carbonation. Taste is consistent from the initial hit on the tongue, to swallow and to aftertaste. A strong roasted presence, followed by a warm alcohol presence. A little one dimensional, but a solid taste throughout.. Finishes very clean and doesn't let you reach for water to cleanse the pallet.

D: Very drinkable beer, goes down easy and has a very good flavor. I would buy this beer again. This is my first "black ale" and I hope this is a strong example of what one should be.

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