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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)
View: Beers (40) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 191 | Reviews: 119 | Show All Ratings:
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 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 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 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 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
Photo of jaxon53
jaxon53

Connecticut

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

Served this slightly chilled, in a pint glass, from a twenty-two ounce brown bottle. You really can't go wrong with a brew from Berkshire.

Appearance: River Ale pours out a deep, cloudy, brownish amber color that is quite dark. A somewhat vigorous pour yielded about a finger and a half of thick, creamy looking tan head. Head was made up of multisized bubbles. Head faded somewhat slowly, and left virtually no significant lace behind to speak of.

Smell: A malty monster. Thick toasted malt aromas, with maybe just a touch of hops buried beneath. A bit on the fruity side, most noticeably cherry, raisin, and plum. Notes of caramel and bread.

Taste: Loads of caramel. Plenty of dark fruit flavors. Quite malty. Touches of chocolate deep in the background. Finishes slightly bitter and dry. Pretty smooth overall. Not a real lot of noticeable alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Almost full bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Somewhat thick and coats the palate. Plenty of fizzy carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable and enjoyable thanks to the lower ABV.
Another tasty brew from Berkshire.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2008 15:50:59 | More by jaxon53
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler

Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour resulted in a finger's worth of ecru head with good retention. The color was a cloudy golden amber. The nose was mildly sweet, sort of like butterscotch, but not in a bad way. The mouthfeel was medium with a solid caramel taste on the tongue. The finish was lingeringly caramel-like. It really masked its alcohol well, but the sweetness was a bit overpowering for a hophead such as myself.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2008 08:50:07 | More by woodychandler
Photo of williamherbert
williamherbert

New York

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

Hazy deep orange color. Big puffy head. Minor spotty lace. Thin jetsam of carbonation.

The aroma is an inoffensive but weak ale smell. Ale yeast and malt, slightly pale. Some mild, almost pilsnery bitter hops.

The taste is almost like a lager: Crisp, bitterish light malt. Like a thick all-malt lager. Very nondescript but not bad.

The feel is thick and creamy...and very malty. A good, decent ale. Not a ton of flavor, but easy drinking.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2008 00:19:26 | More by williamherbert
Photo of mmmbeer
mmmbeer

Massachusetts

3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and best-by 4/8/08; brewed with a portion of wheat malt and sampled a month ago. It pours a deep crimson, with medium carbonation and two inches of tight, light tan head that recedes to a clingy collar. A bit of a wheat twang in the nose, along with grassy malts, caramel, molasses and some earthy, leafy/green hops. Very malty body, with flavors of caramel and earthy/grassy malts, hints of chocolate and toffee, tart wheat and a mild, clean bitterness. It has a medium, lightly-carbonated body that delivers a staying maltiness while becoming ever crisper and dryer. An interesting brew that is hard to define - wouldn't really peg it as a strong ale, but not really sure what else to call it. While not my favorite from BBC, it is fairly tasty and quite drinkable for a beer with an above-average ABV.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2008 22:18:38 | More by mmmbeer
Photo of russpowell
russpowell

Oklahoma

4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to ppotrias for this one!

Pours a semi-hazed orange/caramel with 3 fingers of cream colored head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Caramel & biscutty malt

T: Caramel, herbal & lemon hops, plus biscuitty malt up front. Nice fruittyness (plums, figs, cherries & other dark fruit) & intense cakeyness with Christmas pudding notes, plus toffee once warm. Finishes with some vanilla, some dryness, & loads more dark fruit & a touch of leafy hops

MF: Chewy with low, but useful carbonation. Superior balance. with a great malt backbone

Despite the heft, this dangerously drinkable. Don't cross the river if you cant swim the tide! Luckily I'm an alright swimmer, stellar strong ale!

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2008 05:05:47 | More by russpowell
Photo of dbalsock
dbalsock

Vermont

4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

App: Pours a great dark amber hue with an off white head. There's good head retention, minimal lacing.

Smell: Cramel with bready notes. It's a very malty beer, but everything balances well with no harsh dark malts. There's a low hop aroma.

Taste: Molasses comes out on the tounge with a a subtle hop aftertaste that mixes with the essence of alcohol well. Other flavors are biscuit and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, sweet and medium bodied. The most important part is the crisp for me. Because it's a very malty beer, the crispness gives an incredible balance to it.

Drinkability: This is the best strong ale I've had yet, largely due to the lack of over powering bittering hops and dark malts.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2008 15:29:31 | More by dbalsock
Photo of currysage1
currysage1

Maine

4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a great chestnut brown with red tints from a 22 oz. bomber. Head had small tight bubbles, rising to a nice inch thickness. A little darker than cream, it quickly fell to a good coating that is to heavy to be called lacing. Head remained through most of the tasting. Good coating of sediment left in the bottom of the bottle. No brewed on or enjoy by date present.

Smell consisted of a slighly alcoholic, fully ripened banana, with some malt drizzled on top. (You know the ones that are really banged up and tasty)

Taste I have to say is overwhelmingly that of a banana mixed with cream and malt. Great malting, slight hop body. For me this is better because I prefer more malt and less hop. But for the sake of reviewing this impartially I would say just a bit more hop just for balance would be nice.

Mouthfeel is outstanding, nice and silky, one of the best beers I've had in this category. Hit me right in the middle of my tongue to start, then moved to the back and sides for the hops.

Drinkability wise I liked it very much, I'm not sure if I would want any more than this one, but I will definately be revisiting this one again.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2008 03:32:13 | More by currysage1
Photo of jbsteiny
jbsteiny

Hawaii

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

Poured a cloudy reddish-brown with 1 cm of off-white thick head. Fair retention. Attractive.

Smelled of rich malts (caramel, chocolate), dried dark fruit (raisins, currants), and grain. I wrote that it was reminiscent of an Aventinus (which I'd had the night before). Tasted on the sweet side, but it's a strong ale -- it's allowed. Some herbal hops, but mostly fruit, malt, and grain flavors. Certainly warming alcohol presence. Somewhat dry finish keeps it from being cloying.

A very tasty beer from BBC for any malthead -- probably my new fav from one of my favorite New England breweries. I was actually surprised to read on the site that it's only 7% (they don't list the ABV on the bottle) -- from the taste, I thought it would be more. A delicious warmer to have on hand, especially in this season, but I prefer to split this bomber with a friend!

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2007 05:05:22 | More by jbsteiny
River Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
88 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.