Can I brew with Madness?
This installment of BREWHEADS marked my first real field research in my quest to conquer all heavy metal beers in the galaxy. Yeah, twist my arm to go to a brewery, talk with fellow brewers about beer and metal, and drink their beer. It's a rough job.
I have to give huge thanks to the great Dr. Allison "Lola" Lange, a brewer at 3 Stars Brewing Company, for snagging me a bottle of their Madness Old Stock Ale and alerting me to the beer's serious heavy metal roots. Cheers Allison!
Based on the beer's simplistic name and official description, Madness Old Stock Ale is not immediately obvious as a heavy metal beer—thus my rationale to get some background from the source. I drove to northern Washington, D.C. the afternoon of January 6th to sit down with 3 Stars Brewing Company's founders Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey as well as brewers Nathan Rice and Allison to get the inside scoop on Madness. We gathered in the brewery's newly renovated taproom, drank glasses of Madness, listened to Iron Maiden and got down to business. Yeah, rough job.
Madness was originally called Winter Madness. It was 3 Stars' first seasonal beer released in the winter of 2012-2013. They wanted a big malty "brew that gets you through the holidays". That could mean sharing it with friends at a holiday party or selfishly consuming it to numb your soul as you endure family get-togethers. The intention is in the eye of the beer-holder and consumption is 9/10th of the law.
The name "Winter Madness" came first. However, they quickly shortened the name to just Madness. The tribute to Iron Maiden naturally and rightfully followed since both founders are fans. Check out the promotional poster for Madness with its tagline, "Can I Brew With Madness," which is an obvious reference to Iron Maiden's song "Can I Play With Madness" from the bands 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Now that's what I call a purebred heavy metal inspired beer!
I cracked open my bottle of Madness on January 12, which happens to be the birthdays of Marine Corps Metal Head extraordinaire Steve Angelucci, Howard Stern, and Rob Zombie. Cheers gentlemen! It also coincided with the President's final State of the Union address. I'm sure glad I had a big bottle of 12.4% ABV beer to get me through all the political theater.
My bottle was dated 12/08/15, which is quite fresh for a big boozy dark beer like this. Madness has a deep reddish-brown color and a full off-white head that left substantial lacing on my glass. At first sip, I noticed pleasant heat from the high alcohol content, but this did not detract from the beer at all. It warmed me. Madness has loads of sweet caramel flavor complimented with a bit of milk chocolate and dark fruits. Madness is a very malty beer and the malts are the star of the show. There is not a lot of hop character to Madness – and there doesn't need to be. 3 Stars ages Madness in the fermenter with pieces of wood previously aged in George Dickel Rye Whiskey barrels. This hybrid barrel aging does not overwhelm the beer, but it rather compliments and enhances Madness.
Forty minutes into the President's speech, I consumed my bottle of Madness Old Stock Ale—and I felt good—like bent over a barrel good.
If you happen to live or travel near the Washington, D.C. metro area, you can find Madness in D.C, Virginia, and Maryland. You can also stop by the brewery and get some on tap.
3 Stars Brewing Company
6400 Chillum Place NW
Washington, DC 20012
3 Stars also make a wine barrel-aged Saison called Harvester of Sorrow – a tribute to Metallica's song by the same name from the And Justice for All album. If I get my hands on a bottle, I will feature it in a future BREWHEADS column (hint, hint, Dr. Lange!).
Grab a bottle of Madness, listen to Iron Maiden play "Can I Play With Madness", and enjoy another metal beer. Cheers!