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River Ale - Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

Not Rated.
River AleRiver Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

121 Reviews
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 121
Hads: 224
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 9.16%
Wants: 56
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc. visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Dark Wheat Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-13-2002

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (50) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 121 | Hads: 224
Photo of snowmageddon
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%

Pours a foggy caramel color with a head that recedes quickly. Leaves nice lacing as it goes. On the nose, you can detect honey, biscuit, clove, hay. On my first sip, im hit with honey, toffee, caramel, straw, some banana, clove, raisins. The willamette hops provide a long, earthy hop finish. The mouthfeel is light, with moderate/low carbonation. This is very drinkable with some great notes perfect for a chilly fall day. (423 characters)

Photo of 2014LM2X1
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

Berkshire Brewing was the first craft brewer that I fell in love with. I started out on Steel Rail and went through all of their flavors, including River Ale, in quick succession. That was three years ago; since then, I have been branching out to a number of different breweries.

I revisited Berkshire's Coffeehouse Porter recently, and it was slightly disappointing. Fortunately, I can't say the same for River Ale. I am glad I picked up a bomber on my way home.

The best way I can describe River Ale is this: try it alongside Trappistes Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus 12, and Westy 12. Other than the higher alcohol burn of the latter three, I find the tastes are very similar. I actually don't favor Belgian ales, so I prefer River Ale to the big-name Belgian quads. River Ale doesn't focus on the yeast flavors like the Trappist quads; instead, its more balanced nature allows the sweetness of the malts to shine through.

For $5.00 per bomber, I'd say this is the best value that Berkshire offers. I would highly recommend trying it. And, just for kicks, I would also recommend a blind taste test against some of the more famous Trappist ales - the results might be surprising! (1,195 characters)

Photo of sulldaddy
3.84/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking a cold 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
the beer pours a chestnut and copper hue with some small flakes of precipitate. the beer is also with a soft fluffy beige head of 2 cm foaming up with some larger bubbles in the center of the foam.
Aroma is sweet malt with some brown sugar and caramel, I also get a bit of spicy character, which was unanticipated, but pleasant. Wheat twanginess comes through on the nose as well.
First sip reveals an average body with fine and very tingly carbonation. texture is smooth and easy drinking making for an enjoyable physical experience.
Flavor is some sweet fruity malt with a little red grape and some caramel mixed with wheat twang again as on the nose. Finish brings back the small amount of cinnamon that was on the nose. It is an enjoyable beer and I dont get any hop character nor any real booziness.
The beer is not overly complex, but is certainly not flawed and makes for an enjoyable evening. (953 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

best dark wheat beer ive had in ages upon ages. needed this one bad, missing four nights of further at red rocks for an academic conference in western mass. funny they should have a lost sailor and saint of circumstance ipa, but that's for later on. enjoying the live stream though. enough, this pours a decadent caramel color with a lovely but short lived khaki head. the nose assaults me the second I crack the bomber, rich copper and toffee notes from the English malt, and an almost german banana or plantain character from the yeast, a really delicious autumn combination. the taste is just identical to the nose, perfect from one to the other, the banana over the darker wheat malt is just sensational. feel is also exquisite, with a fuller body, soft in feel but still well carbonated. this impressed the hell out of me for less than 5 bucks a bomber. really this is great stuff. dying to crack the ipa I got too, go Berkshire brewing! hell of a first impression! never would guess its 7% abv either, drinks like 4% (1,022 characters)

Photo of MistahBeah
4.14/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a weizen glass. Clear dark brown amber with a nice finger of borderline kahki head. Lots of carbonation and streaky lacing. Decent retention

Smells of roasted malts. Fresh baked bread. Some dried figs perhaps? Chestnuts. Some faint cocoa

Taste follows the nose. Roasted malts steal the show. Bready, nutty, and slightly earthy. Yeasty doughy bread provides much of the backbone here. Roasted chestnuts. Some dark fruit sweetness throughout. Cocoa again is faint. The finish is earthy with very mild bitterness

Feels medium bodied and crisp with a smooth finish

Overall a very nice beer. Combines the crispness and light body of a wheat beer with the robust malty smoothness of say a dopplebock. One of my favorites from Berkshire (745 characters)

Photo of KelsoSaaz
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Weizen glass

A: Mud brown to dark translucent copper with a tan 2 finger head. Leaves all around lacing.

S: Sweet and bready malts; chocolate, caramel and nutty aromas.

T: Fantastic malt flavors: toasty grains, fresh bread, sweet malts. Hints of caramel and hints of chocolate. Very subtle hop presence that present earthy and ever so slightly bitter tones. Possibly some dark fruity tones in the finish.

M: Viscous body with mild carbonation.

A: Definitely a brew for a malt aficionado. River Ale is super tasty and fairly unique, certainly worth trying when you can find it. River Ale is a year-round brew for BBC, but I think it is an excellent beer for fall. (680 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a weizen glass.
7% ABV, Best by 07/12/11

[Review from notes taken on 06-13-11]

Thanks Thorpe!

A - Hazed through completely, the chocolaty brown beer has golden highlights and a plump tan head. Good retention but little lace is left adorning the glass.

S - Crisp wheat aroma that's soft but full. Chocolate notes immediately set this beer apart. Nice balance of earthy, mulch-like Willamet hops. Yeasty undertones carry through to a caramel malt finish.

T - Much maltier than I had anticipated, this is loaded with chocolate and caramel tones with overlapping yeast and soft wheat. Little balance comes from the earthy hop notes.

M - Medium-bodied and soft with a clean but estery, sweeter finish. Mild spice notes add depth to the feel.

O - A very nice wheat ale with good malt tones and mild hop balance. The yeast qualities add esters and phenols that work well with the brew as a whole. (921 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had this beer on-tap in a pint glass at Stone's Public House in Ashland, MA.

Appearance: nutty brown hue with a moderate haze and almost no head as poured. Still pretty attractive.

Smell: light chocolatiness and a hint of wheaty malt that leaves me wanting a taste.

Taste: rich chocolatey flavor with a nice hint of raisins and toffee. It almost reminds me of a mix between a double chocolate stout (without the roast) and a toffee-laden nut brown ale. This beer does dark wheat ales real justice!

Mouthfeel: rich, smooth, soft creaminess that really soothes the soul. Just wonderful.

Overall: this beer absolutely rubs me the right way. More please!! (661 characters)

Photo of sommersb
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On: 01-31-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Weizen glass
Purchased: Received in a trade

Reviewing my first in this rare style...

Pours with a huge off-white head, showing excellent lacing and very good head retention. Beer is mostly clear and dark amber in color.

Aromas are very pleasing, with a malty, sweet start, plus typical wheat yeast smells of cloves and bananas. Also has a bready and caramel character from the malts.

The taste is in line with the nose -- sweet and malty with caramel, fruit and spicy flavors. The earthy hops lend a low bitterness. Also has some nutty tastes.

Mouthfeel has a medium body with a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish is smooth, malty and sweet, but in balance.

Overall, this is an exceptional beer that I'm glad I had the opportunity to try. Highly recommended

Thanks to davey101 for this one! (903 characters)

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a ruddy mahogany color with a fingers worth of head

S: Starts off with a good deal of wheat, spices, and fruit. The hops provide some light fruit and floral notes. Some nuttiness also comes through, mostly almonds that lend a sweet cherry note as well

T: Starts off with a nice fruitiness that combines with the nuttiness. Lightly spicy. Wheat comes through at the end. The nutty almond/cherry notes are the key point with the fruity hops nearly standing up to them

M: Light-medium bodied with a solid level of carbonation

O: A very solid dark wheat, with a good amount of fruitiness and flavor. Very easy to drink, and solidly refreshing. I can see why this is at the top of the style (698 characters)

Photo of garuda
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Ruby, off white head has nice retention with some lacing.

S - A little light on the nose with fresh baked bread and a touch of floral hops.

T - Depths of malt in this one with baked bread, hints of chocolate, molasses, nuttiness... a little wheat twang. Minimal hop presence, finishes a little sweet with some booze heat. Nice.

M - Medium body, silky smooth carbonation and mouthfeel. Finishes dry with some booze.

O - My first of the style, but I reckon its a pretty good one. (485 characters)

Photo of Celtics76
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up as a pre-dinner drink. Drank it while grilling a whisky-pepper pork tenderloin on the grill.

Pours a nice clear copper with a half inch of bubbly head that reduces quickly. Nice aroma here - sweet caramel. Quite tasty - caramel flavor hits the tongue and eventually gives way to a bready, crisp wheat finish with mild alcohol detection. Lightly carbonated with a good spicy, somewhat herbal kick. Perhaps due to the Willamette hops, as stated on the label. Overall a mild hop profile.

I've had this a few times and I must say it's one of the most unique brews I've had. Flavorful and highly drinkable. The only other American style dark wheat ale I've had was Mayflower's, and that one doesn't touch this. (723 characters)

Photo of match1112
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to davey101 for sending this to me! bomber pours into a mug a dark wheat bread color, weird huh. smells and tastes like warm bread from the oven. full wheat body with hints of yeast a little hops . some burnt sugar and alochol is also detectable. full body, good carbonation, smooth creamy body with a slight hop bite on the finish. really like this beer. after receiving this i realized i needed it to knock out the style and what a solid representation of the style it is. (481 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a Duvel tulip. The #1-rated American Dark Wheat Ale - one more best-of-style tick down, far too many to go.

A: Clear dark caramel body under two fingers of dense tan foam. Good retention, decent lace. Very good.

S: Breadiness is the first thing I notice, resembling a well-toasted multi-grain bagel. As my nose dips deeper into the glass, I'm met with some major hop notes - lots of earth and spice. Tangy wheat finally shows up on the back end. Quite complex, thoroughly enjoyable, and definitely to style.

T: Follows the nose quite precisely. Nutty, bready malts are up front, spicy wheat and hops show up a bit later, and it ends with a clean, spicy, mildly bitter finish. Slight chalky minerality on the aftertaste. The sweet/spicy/bitter combination of disparate flavors is really pleasant, but the aftertaste is a bit oppressive. Quite good overall, though.

M: Soft, luxurious, creamy medium body. Perfect.

O: Every other beer of this style I've had has been god awful. This is really tasty - it really is like a Weizenbock done with American ale yeast. Great stuff.

Cheers! (1,098 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.44/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into pint glass

Appearance – Pours a slightly hazy brown color with a two finger off white head. The head had great retention, but eventually faded to give a nice level of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a sweet wheat smell. The wheat is of a bready nature with the sweet being of caramel and some dark fruits. Mixed with these aromas are some lighter notes of a roasted malt and a very light citrus nature. Overall quite nice.

Taste – The taste begins sweet and roasty with a nice wheat flavor mixed within. The sweet at the front is of a caramel nature, but as the taste goes on some brown sugar and a very light citrus hop come to the tongue. As the taste advances further a subtle boozy flavor comes to the tongue. It overall creates a very nice slightly warming sweet bready aftertaste on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- The body of the beer is on the medium to just above medium side with the carbonation level being on the average side. The body is very nice for the sweeter bready flavors and really allows the boozy flavors to warm the mouth.

Overall – A great sweeter brew. Wonderful flavors and a great warming feel. Fantastic!! (1,171 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a superbly clear dark brown color. Head is fluffy and off-white. The head sits in stark contrast to the beer's body and it makes River Ale a beautiful brew. Great lacing too.

S-Smell is wheat and yeasty with notes of banana bread and brown sugar. Light spiciness too. Also there are toffee and butterscotch notes as well.

T-Creamed and bread with plenty of toasted wheat. Quite sweet. Caramel, molasses and toffee. Light tobacco. Finishes with a bubblegum flavor. Tastes a bit like toast with a light caramel glaze. A peppery spice sneaks up on you.

M-Very creamy. Light, tingling carbonation. Alcohol masked incredibly well. Somewhat full in body but it also seems light during some sips.

O/D-One of Berkshire's more unique brews. I think they craft cool beer at a good price and this is no different. Not my favorite in their lineup but I must say that there should be more Dark Wheat Ales out on the market because it is a neat style. Seek this out. (964 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My buddy (Naugros on the website) brought a bottle back from his trip and shared it with me to knock this style off my list. After this review I only have two left (happoshu and kvass).

I drank this beer in a wheat glass. It was deep brown with about two fingers of head that retained really well. It left some decent lacing on the glass. You can see a lot of particulates in the lower third of the glass.

In the nose I get sour, some malt, and a venous presence. The flavor is consistent with the smell. I get a little bit more malt than in the nose. I also pick up more of the sour.

This beer is a little heavy for summer. I would recommend it for the cooler months. (671 characters)

Photo of Naugros
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Murky, coppery brown with visible dregs on the bottom. Light tan head that really lasts and coats the side, promising lacing.

Fruity nose from the wheat yeast, something akin to plums with a touch of treacle in the back. Grassy aromas waft up as well.

Taste really follows the smell with the treacle turning more to molasses. Dark fruit (again, could be plum) with a slight wheat tang to it. A little bit of a red wine sense in the aftertaste.

If you're looking for a light, bright wheat beer for a summer day, this is not it. This is right in the medium level for body and is a little sticky on the tongue. (611 characters)

Photo of Duff27
4.06/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Half inch white head recedes to a cap. Brown red body. Lotsa lacing going on.

Not a whole lot going on with the smell. Slight sweet wheat perhaps.

Some banana sweetness but not overpowering. Very drinkable.

Medium mouthfeel, adequate carbonation.

Drinkability is the name of River Ales game. No flavor is over eatin which I feel is an asset here. Recommended for fan is the style. Thanks ru94conn. (401 characters)

Photo of BostonHops
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber in a pilsner glass.
served two months from best by date.

pours a translucent, dark amber tone while yielding a finger and a half of a creamy/foamy beige head. decent retention and lacing; overall a beautiful looking beer. nose is appetizing. very wheaty with a big sweet malty presence to it.

taste is exceeds the nose. bold notes of wheat, caramel, brown sugar, and a underlying fruitiness i can quite pin down. pretty damn fantastic. medium bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation.

overall, a real pleasant surprise. did not expect to enjoy this beer as much as i am. ordinarily not a style i seek out, but this is just really flavorful and tasty. hands down my favorite offering to date from berkshire, a somewhat under-the-radar local brewery that continues to impress me.

(originally reviewed: 07-19-2011) (828 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1342nd Review on BA
Bottle to Spiegelau Wheat glass
22oz

Thanks to BA RudZud for this one

App- Has a lot of color in the glass. A mix of browns and yellows and crimsons. A small cascading look to it with the falling colors. A very good two finger head with a small cling.

Smell- A good bit of wheat with a caramel candy note flavor. A bit sweet and malty. Like a smaller roggenbier. Nice small aromatics that blend nicely.

Taste- Flavorful little beer. A good sweetness meets a small wheat and fruit flavor but for 7% hits you on the finish. A nice bit of what seems like a rye/spice note. Seemingly prickly but not like A barrel aged prickly.

Mouth- A nice medium body with a creamy medium carbonation. Residual wheat and spice remain with a touch of malts and candy esque flavors.

Drink- A nice beer. Nice layers, good flavors and a unique style. Better than an average wheat. I wouldn't mind another bottle to sip on. (926 characters)

Photo of bbeerman
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A..Nice amber hue on the pour. Decent head.

S..Above average malt notes.

T..Malty. Syrupy caramel flavors. Slight chocolate, though faint. Almost a smoked flavor near the end (but only on some sips I found). Quite tasty.

M..Medium bodied despite the 7% ABV.

O..Very excellent beer overall. Really enjoyed this much more than I was expecting and look forward to getting another round of bombers in the near future. (417 characters)

Photo of mltobin
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle purchased in CT, split w/ a friend.

Appearance is brown with one finger of head. Its` nose contains malt, caramel, nuts and some fruit. River Ale tastes of wheat, more caramel, syrup, caramel, but also some hops in there. A pleasant mouthfeel, smooth, balanced for its` characteristics. This is one of the better options from this brewery out of Western Mass. (376 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice beer. It reminds me of a weizenbock for the dark fruity notes. The aroma has more malt character with a gentle toast and milk chocolate. The flavor is slightly sweet and the body is a medium weight that rolls down smoothly. Over the cocoa runs figs and a creamy rum spices. While most American wheat beers turn out fairly boring, this is a tasty dark ale that belongs in the same realm as dubbels and weizenbocks. (418 characters)

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this beer from tzieser. Thanks Tom!

22oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - clear amber color with a cream colored head that left some thick lacing behind.

S - cocoa powder and roasted malt.

T - roasted malt and chocolate nibs, a little smokey towards the finish which is slightly dry and bittersweet.

F - medium bodied with good carbonation.

O - an all around good beer. (392 characters)

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River Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
88 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.