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River Ale - Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

River AleRiver Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

191 Ratings
THE BROS
93
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 191
Reviews: 119
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 9.87%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-13-2002)
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Ratings: 191 | Reviews: 119 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of laituegonflable
laituegonflable

Australia

3.38/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to my Vermontish mate Charlie for sharing this one with me.

Pours a ruby/golden hybrid with pleasant off-white head that sinks quickly, leaving a ring of bubbles and some specks in the middle. Lacing is sticky but not very plentiful. Looks nice, but not great.

Nose is very malty and kind of English in character, lots of toffee notes and some pleasant floral hops. A hint of mint, lavender and rosewater on there, and a hint of some brandy alcohol as well, a little bit phenolic. Pleasant, herbal & fresh, with a good malt backbone.

Tastes quite nutty, with a lot of cashew and marzipan character on the front. Gets malty quickly with more toffee character and a hint of diacetyl buttery goodness raising the sweetness just a bit too much on the mid. Finish is quite spicy with a noticeable alcohol twang, and some slightly chewy notes on the back. A bit overly boozey with not quite enough flavour to cover it. Maybe too attenuated? Or just not hoppy enough...

A decent body to this but a bit of harshness from the booze. A bit drying on the back, but yeah, good texture.

Not a bad drop, but just needs more flavour to keep me interested. Fair punch but not enough flourish.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2010 03:29:21 | More by laituegonflable
Photo of travduke
travduke

North Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep amber in color. Two fingers of white fluffy head, great lacing down my chalice.

Aroma: Its hard to really finger anything here. Ethanol and fruits stand out the most.

Taste: The nose was misleading, this is very complex. Dark fruits, sweet caramel malt. Really interesting and tasty.

Feel/Drink: Great creamy, sweet mouthfeel. Medium bodied. Drinkability is nice, enjoy this over time.

Serving type: on-tap

04-06-2010 01:35:47 | More by travduke
Photo of Jesstyr
Jesstyr

Virginia

4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this out at Ninety9 Bottles in Norwalk, and then bought a couple 22oz to run through at home. Good stuff, really stands up to any strong ale i've had.

Poured into a McChouffe chalice and builds a decent finger of head. Excellent lacing, definitely a strength. Pours a bright amber with significant cloudiness and sediment. Nose is sweet maltiness, with a little bit of brown sugar.

Taste is much like the nose - sweet and malty, but a little brown sugar and some chocolate. Very similar to a belgian dubble - probably closest to ommegang. Medium body, very smooth on the palate. Alcohol is well balanced in this drink, and its a great one to share and pair with a great meal.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2010 02:01:59 | More by Jesstyr
Photo of mostpoetsdo
mostpoetsdo

Rhode Island

4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A deep ruby amber with a nice off white head, leaves some pretty good lacing.

S: Toasted malt, fruit, and a bit of sweetness.

T: Really fruity and malty up front, with a caramel like sweetness. Also a bit of a hop bite to it, bitter. There is quite a bit going on here. A great tasting American Strong Ale, but unusually fruity, it works though and is delicious.

M: Creamy and silky smooth, very enjoyable, with a medium body and a low carbonation that worked in its favor.

D: This is yet another great offer by Berkshire, in the description, the bar considered it the East Coast version of "Fat Tire." Suggest this highly.

Serving type: on-tap

03-02-2010 01:51:34 | More by mostpoetsdo
Photo of maximum12
maximum12

Minnesota

3.33/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to AdamDC for sending this along. I've been happily surprised & healthily disappointed at various point by BBC brews, so who knows where this will lead.

Poured into two Darkness snifters for my wife & I. Tons of sludge...not just sludge, but actual chunks, in the bottom. Leave those there! A deeply burnished, spit-shined copper ale sits here with me. You look real purty comin' outta that mouth. Smell is subdued to the point of non-existence. A touch of alcohol, memory of fruits.

River Ale packs a lot of heat for its 7% ABV. The sweetness & alcohol is out front, wearing the number 7 & probably sporting Nikes. After the unexpected blast of alcohol, there is a bouquet of funeral fruits, tied to the caramel malts. Very sweet. No hops to be found, which might have dialed some of the sweetness back into a better area code.

Good enough brew, but too sweet for my taste. Really struck me as a borderline fruit beer more than a strong ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2010 02:30:37 | More by maximum12
Photo of edchicma
edchicma

Massachusetts

4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich chocolate with small head that is retained well. Smell islightly sweet with some hop undertones. Taste is rich, malty with just enough hopr presence to prevent cloying. Alcohol presence is there, but notoverpowering. Mouthfeel is rich, full-bodied, smooth. Very dinkable for a 7 abv. I wouldn't be against having a bit of chocolate cake with this offering.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2009 23:54:27 | More by edchicma
Photo of Gambrinus1184
Gambrinus1184

Connecticut

4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into a Ro's Restaurant pint glass.

A: Poured a deep, ruby red and amber brown color with a thick, fluffy head of off white foam which lent some nice sticky lace to the glass.

S: Smells fruity and complex, with a slight peppery aroma and a dizzying whiff of dextrose and alcohol.

T: Very sweet and fruit-laden maltiness at first. A big, slick sugary caramel malt flavor is complicated with deep berry and fruit flavors ranging from grape, plum and cherry to strawberries and raspberries. A slight alcoholic burn and herbal hop complex intensify the flavor. It comes together a bit more as the ale warms, but it's a sipper to be sure.

M: Mouthfeel is heavy and sweet with a stinging, slightly cloying feel.

D: Definitely one to share with a buddy. AT 7% and with a character as complex as this ale has, you should sip it in limited quantities. Very interesting and a fruity ale flavor fanatics dream. Quite good.

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2009 15:19:41 | More by Gambrinus1184
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been a challenge lately to get through anything new, but I decided to let my family have a crack at a few things this weekend and pulled a sample off of each. Part of the " Random BBQ Event" at my in laws on 07/19/2009.
 
 
Appearance - Solid brown color here with only the slightest bit of reddish touches around the sides. Very smooth looking head of tan pops up on top and settles down nicely into a fine pillow. Rich side lacing and a good lacing keep up the impression that this was what I was looking for.
 
Smell - Lots of nuttiness going on here. Caramel, grassy notes, hints of nuts and bready aromas all coming together. Sweet and dark at the same time. Hints of some prunes perhaps, maybe a touch of grass in there as well, definitely had a kitchen sink mentality to it.
 
Taste - Smooth, soo smooth. Caramel comes across first, rippling and inviting all at the same time. Then it comes knocking at my door with a roasted peanut like flavor that dives with a hint of molasses. Very sweet. A bitter note pops it head up, piney maybe? Interesting, as it fades and leaves behind a nice touch of fruit and a really solid sweet flavor that continues to tug on your taste buds as it floats away.
 
Feel - Very nice here, creamy medium feel on this one. Carbonation was damn near spot on and the rich Mouthfeel was just what I was looking for. Coating as it allowed the taste to flow nearly perfectly.
 
Drinkability - It was a touch strong I do have to admit, but it was well hidden behind the copious malts that were laid down in front of it. I could have done the whole bottle by myself, but there was really no need to.
 
Overall - Again another very solid offering here and a really nice way to cap off the Berkshire session. I am very impressed with what they have to offer and would gladly do this one again.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2009 15:53:31 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of GJ40
GJ40

North Carolina

3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on cask at Doherty's in Pawtucket, RI.

A - Light brown and hazy with a moderate beige head and good lacing.

S - Some nutty and bready malts but not a lot of aroma.

T - A flat somewhat bland start with a smoky, earthy flavor that develops midway through. There's not much room to hide with a cask presentation. This one doesn't have any off flavors that detract from it but it didn't have much that stood out either.

M - A nice smooth and creamy texture.

D - This was a pleasant, easy to drink beer. At 7%, it's not much of a strong ale but it was enjoyable enough.

Serving type: cask

07-01-2009 11:29:06 | More by GJ40
Photo of ClockworkOrange
ClockworkOrange

Pennsylvania

3.63/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to brothercannon for bring me a bottle of this, and a few other Berkshires, back from VT. Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into my nonic pint glass. The ale appears a clear deep copper color with about a finger of lingering tan colored foam. Nose and flavor are of sweet caramel malts, toffee, brown sugar notes, toasted, bready grains, and some earthy bitter hops. About a notch better than medium bodied with adequate carbonation. Worth a try if you are a fan of a strong ale.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2009 04:13:38 | More by ClockworkOrange
Photo of DrJay
DrJay

Massachusetts

3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly clear, dark amber brown, kind of like iced tea. A fine beige collar formed after the pour and there was some spotty lace. Bready and biscuity malt and caramel aromas, a bit fruity. Moderate bitterness with a bit of fruit up front. Caramel sweetness and toasted malt. Medium/low carbonation, medium plus bodied, a bit creamy and fairly smooth. Quite drinkable and pretty tasty.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2009 22:21:21 | More by DrJay
Photo of thespaceman
thespaceman

Connecticut

4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful dark copper, minimal head size but excellent lacing down the glass. Lots of bubbles flowing up the glass.

Smell: Toasty, bread like aromas fill the nose, a caramel and toffee exchange pair nicely through the malt. Very roasting and inviting, hints of vanilla and spiciness slam the palate in the finish.

Taste: Chocolate malt plays a huge roll up front, very milkshake like flavor follows a huge dose of alcohol and dark esters, a bit of espresso bean is faint but dried out from the sweetness of the crystal malts and sugar. Big bodied taste for such a sweet tasting brew.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, rich and robust.. Medium bodied, a bit dry yet balanced on the tongue and sweet to the feel.

Drinkability: C'mon .. At 3.99 a bottle this is such a good beer to be such a good price. This is what a strong ale should be like, malty, nice mouthfeel, big ABV and a good price. Highly recommened!

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2009 04:31:45 | More by thespaceman
Photo of GWaters
GWaters

New Hampshire

4.8/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on Tap
Mohawk Park in Charlemont, MA

If you love sweet malty ales, this is a must! Truly Exceptional.

Pour: Pours the color of dark gingerbread with a slight head, but ample lacing. Sticks to the glass like a thin liqueur.

Smell: Sweet, sweet buttery malt with lower notes of caramel and moss. Heavenly, and very inviting.

Taste: A sweet roasted malt throughout. Smooth layers of caramel and cashew are mixed in. Hops punch through the buttery sweetness in spots. Darn near perfect for the style.

Mouthfeel: Opens with a soft coating of some sweet nectar to coat the mouth. Thins out quickly and rolls of the tongue seductively to leave a smooth happiness behind.

Drinkability: Rarely do I lose track of the number of beers I have in a pub, but I can't tell you how many I had one night. I can tell you this beer will let yo uknow the next day. It is a very easy to drink beer, and will invite you to another everytime.

Serving type: on-tap

03-24-2009 18:39:30 | More by GWaters
Photo of indiapaleale
indiapaleale

Massachusetts

4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

BBC's River Ale has always sort of confused me as to which style it is but now I see it falls into that rather ambiguos "American Strong Ale" category...

Pours a very nice dark auburn with a nice, tight creamy white head that clings to the glass very well.

Smell is sweet caramel, honey, lots o malt, bread dough and a bit of alcohol. Lots of good smells drawing me in...

Tastes extremely toasty, roasty, biscuity, malty, caramely and delicious! Lots of sweet honey and brown sugar combine well with that hint of alcohol warming. Such a great beer that is very straightforward and simple.

Super smooth and easy drinking, wow I am easily going to polish off this bomber myself...especially since they don't sell this any other way.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2009 01:32:20 | More by indiapaleale
Photo of micahgoldfus
micahgoldfus

New Jersey

3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

The pour looks good: a copper-brown color with a nice, frothy lace that leaves a mark on the glass with every sip. The smell was of sweet malts, a little bit of hops, and a little sting of alcohol. The taste is not too far off from that. It's dominated by sweet malts right up fronts: caramel, toffee, and bready and toasted notes. Still, the flavor ends up with a double-bite along with the sweetness: a little bit of alcohol and a mild touch of hops. Unfortunately, the combination of flavors (especially the sweetness), combined with a somewhat thick mouthfeel, gives a slightly syrupy feel to the beer. However, the high level of carbonation saves the beer. Overall, it's an enjoyable beer to drink, with plenty of flavor.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2009 03:42:07 | More by micahgoldfus
Photo of Macdoyal
Macdoyal

Vermont

3.63/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Alrighty here we go.

Appearance: A dense white head that goes fast and leaves excellent lacing on the glass. The color is that of a copper or leather.

Smell: Sweet smell of malt and almost caramel with a sharp hops bite at the end.

Taste: Bold taste of malt with a roasted note that is a little bitter. The hops add another layer of bite thou not a lot. Overall it's nice but it's that roasted note i can do with out.

Mouthfeel: Not a lot of carbonationwhich works well. It's got a thicker mouthfeel the best of which i can explain as saying Velvety.

Drinkability: It's good stuff and i could drink a couple of these but there are other beers by these guys i prefer.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2009 04:29:37 | More by Macdoyal
Photo of ThirstyBird
ThirstyBird

Germany

2.9/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served on tap at Track 84 in Warwick RI
A - Light amber with an off white head
S - Cherry cough syrup, malt
T - The cherry cough syrup prevailed with the sweet malt backbone. It got better as with warmed but couldn't get past the cough syrup flavor.
M/F - Very smooth. Medium body
D - Nice body but will need to re-sample as the flavor was one dimensional on this draft plus I have always enjoyed Berkshire's offerings in the past.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2008 00:43:34 | More by ThirstyBird
Photo of hopdog
hopdog

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle acquired in trade with ppoitras (thanks!).

Poured light brown, almost a deeper orange color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of caramel, chocolate and nuts. Tastes of caramel, chocoalte, nuts and had a sugary sweetness as well.. Thinner body. Although this had the typical Brown Ale profile, I found the tastes and aromas didn't really mesh together well. It was as if they were each fighting each other and and definitely did not blend.

Notes from 1/16/07

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2008 16:39:40 | More by hopdog
Photo of albern
albern

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a treat and one of the better offerings from Berkshire. The beer pours a clear copper mahogany color with a small but creamy off white head, decent retention, some lacing too. The nose is big malt palate in the pale malt variety, a deep caramel aroma, and a sweetish slightly fruitishness. It is primarily a big pale malt nose though, not overly aromatic, but good.

The taste is a deep caramel flavor, with a big malt palate, some roasted notes, and a sweetish almost candied butterscotch flavor maybe a tad brown sugary. The beer is not much carbonated, medium bodied, quite smooth, a slight hop presence more towards the finish, and maybe some warming ABV in the finish as well. For a 7% beer, this hides and masks the alcohol extremely well. This is a solid, big malty beer and is a nice treat. L'Chaim.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2008 20:14:39 | More by albern
Photo of gfreed
gfreed

Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another excellent choice from BCB. This one is about two shades darker than their APA, being somewhat ruby-colored when held up to a light, with a decent tan head. The head lets go a lovely bouquet of malty caramel and even a little alcohol, but also some nice dark tones of toffee and fruit. This is one of those beers I want to smell as much as drink. The malt is front and center with this one, but you'll find that the hops gives a subtle whack as you swallow. The 7.0% ABV gives it some warmth, but the alcohol remains in the background. As with many BCB beers, the carbonation is relatively low so the overall feel is smooth, making the beer highly drinkable. Worth going out of your way to find and, as always, it's extremely affordable. Buy two.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2008 01:58:51 | More by gfreed
Photo of auxiliary
auxiliary

Rhode Island

3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - Dark amber color with a off-white head and some lace.

smell - Nice malt taste here with some caramel taste.

taste - Lots of malt here with some hops present.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Real nice taste, recommend this beer. Big on malt and taste here.

Serving type: on-tap

10-21-2008 01:47:57 | More by auxiliary
Photo of Jwale73
Jwale73

Rhode Island

4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in my BBC pint. Poured the color of unpasteurized apple cider with a one inch dense, off-white cap that eventually dissipates into a consistent skim. Murky clarity with bands of thick lacing that were revealed after each quaff. Nose is caramel and pale malts, as well as some sugar and light fruity esters (perhaps pear). Taste follows nose as well as a bready character. Mouthfeel is light to medium and well-balanced with a nice amount of carbonation to round it all out. Some of the breadiness in the taste lingers at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful brew. BBC doesn't make a bad beer in my opinion, and this is definitely one of my favorites.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2008 17:46:52 | More by Jwale73
Photo of lackenhauser
lackenhauser

Maryland

3.53/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Muddy, reddish color. Not very carbonated. I noticed a caramel aroma the minute I poured this out. Quite malty smelling. Good solid malty flavor. Somewhat caramel flavor. Minor astringency in the backround knocks it down a peg. Bitterness upfront quickly fades. Decent body. A good enough beer. The astringency tends to overshadow it a bit for me. At 7% I dont think it is from the alcohol but maybe. Worth a try for sure.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2008 00:34:04 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of shaebs99
shaebs99

New York

4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another solid offering from BBC. I haven't had this in over a year now.

I wish I gave a more vigorous pour. I seem to remember a better head and head retention in the past. Decent lacing ( I poured my share second so I got the majority of the yeast sediment which settled fairly quickyl to the bottom)

Aroma is of sweet malts with a light fruitiness and something about it reminds me of higher ABV beers, but you dont really sense alcohol in nose.

Taste, not surprisingly, features sweet and toasted malts. Light caramel notes with a good balance. Maybe a hint of alcohol or it could be the aroma invoking memories of higher abv beers. There is a nice crisp carbonation about it. Not slick or oily, but a decent amount of carbonation to give it a fairly crisp mouthfeel, but I can imagine this gentle crispness disappearing if one were to drink it with a little age on it.

Overall another solid offering from Berkshire. I don't know if they make the best beer in MA, but they are my favorite brewery in MA.

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2008 22:47:44 | More by shaebs99
Photo of fitzy84
fitzy84

Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber. The appearance is a dark brown-amber color with a thinned head and no real lacing. Aromas are thin but apparent with a slightly smoked malt aroma, sweet roasty caramel tones to it. Taste excels beyond what the aromas hinted at; strong sweetness of bready malts. Good mouthfeel helps smooth this drink out without hindering a solid carbonation. Overall, an excellent drink from BBC.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2008 03:52:34 | More by fitzy84
River Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
88 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.