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River Horse Special Ale ESB - River Horse Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
River Horse Special Ale ESBRiver Horse Special Ale ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
74
okay

162 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 162
Reviews: 135
rAvg: 3.18
pDev: 14.47%
Wants: 1
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
River Horse Brewing Co. visit their website
New Jersey, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-01-2002

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 162 | Reviews: 135
Reviews by goz:
Photo of goz
3.26/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber, with a large off-white head that mostly diminishes to leave good lacing. Aroma is light, with some toasted grains and caramel. Flavor starts slightly sweet, then turns to some mild roasted graininess. Thinnish body, fairly light on the aromas and flavor, which seems to be typical of this brewery.

More User Reviews:
Photo of generallee
3.92/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: It has an orange amber colored body with lots of yeast fine sediment floating around inside. This is cap off by a tall, light and foamy head. It is light tan in color and slowly fades to thin filmy covering which leaves behind a little slick lacing on the glass.

Smell: I get some really nice sweet bready and doughy maltiness with a faint hint of English hops.

Taste/Palate: There is a nice base of bready maltiness and yeast with pleasant sweetness. I get some mellow notes of honey like sweetness, sugar cookies and even a touch of light caramel and vanilla. The hops come in at the finish and offer some pleasant herbal character and light bitterness for balance. The mouth feel has a firm medium feel with soft carbonation.

Notes: My overall thought is that it may not be the prettiest beer but it has some good flavor notes and nice balance. Also I could see myself drinking more then a few of these at 4.5% abv.

Photo of Billolick
3.1/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, Boring and nondescript are my words to describe this brew. As said below this one does not go anywhere. Mushy flavor profile, malty? hops? nothing really is destinct.. Poor brew to roll out as your "special" ale. I'm sure these guys are capable of better.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
2.98/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz. amber bottle with no freshness dating. "You'll never miss the water!" on the label.

Poured a dark copper in color with a very smooth and creamy off-white head that dies quickly and sparsely covers the glass. Aromas are tough to pick out, but are comprised mostly of a doughy sweetness...like cinnamon roll dough. Flavor is more of the same, with a shallow malty-caramel flavor supported by a bit of diacetyl input. Finishes with nary an aftertaste....nothing. Mouthfeel is very thin and not to pleasing to the palate. Drinkable, but not overly so.

Notes: Bottle clearly notes "ESB" on the bottle but there's no way that this fits the ESB mold.

Photo of jakester
3.47/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this sampler case from Shelbourne Beer Dist. No dates on the case, bottle, or label. I drank this in a pilsner glass.

Pours a slightly hazy copper, with a 1/2 finger head of off-white foam. The head quickly drops to islands and a ring. Sparse splotches of lacing are evident. Not much carbonation.

Earthy type malt smell, caramel-y and toasty, with an herbal hop nose. Fruity, and maybe a touch of diacetyl. Pleasant.

The first flavor is slightly singed caramel malt, with a decent hop bitterness. Pretty fruity, with flavors of golden raisins and dates. Fairly sweet for style, but not bad. Aftertaste is sweet toasted malts.

Mouthfeel is medium sweetness, with soft carbonation. Pretty much to style. Finish is pretty sweet, but nice.

If this beer had more depth of character, it would be pretty damn good. It's within style parameters, but with just a little push, could be so much more.

Photo of Kraken
3/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Fin Du Monde Tulip glass. Firm pour elicits 1/8 inch head that diminishes very rapidly. Moderate lace. Color is a slight ruby amber.

Nose- Light notes of caramel, bitters evident in the nose.

Palate- Lightly sweet caramel notes, some nuttiness. Pleasantly yet mild bitterness. Not overly complex but a nice beverage none the less.

Mouthfeel- A little thin, but pleasant.

Drinkability- Good.

Photo of dacrza1
3.48/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Situation: Final exams have began--time to celebrate prematurely!
Glassware: Kisatsky's Pub shaker...
Appearance: Burnt orange-brown body with a crispy, fresh white head that settles to a lacing-less moustache..
Aroma: Robust, hoppy scents--a bit much in the hopper for an ESB (though indeed this is an American brewer)...
Palate: medium-bodied and rather smooth finish after an abrupt start; the throat is stoked ablaze with each passing sip...
Taste: buttery with sweet toffee and vanilla (?); hops provide initial runch but ease off; aftertaste is pleasantly even...
Overall: No insult, but can't think of something more to say either way--works as the twelve-pack filler with a sessionable sweetness....

Photo of NJpadreFan
2.95/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

River Horse Special Ale

My first River Horse.

Appearance- orangy yellow with a thin fizzy head.
Smell- grassy hops and malt. not bad.
Taste- light and watery. yet decent malt with some grassy hints.
Mouthfeel- watery with a dull dryness in the back end.

Overall- a decent is not forgetable beer. Wouldn't seek this one out but wouldn't mind drinking another.

Photo of jmz62565
2.91/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a cloudy reddish amber with a very small short lived head.The smell is average with some roasted malt,but that's about it.The taste has some roasted malt nuttiness and a slight citrus aftertaste.The m/f is light and leaves your mouth a little watery.This is an average beer and I doubt I'll try this again.

Photo of emsroth
3.94/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

App: Slightly darker than amber. A small, one finger head that turned into a thick lace on the top of the beer.

Smell: Sweet floral and piney hops. Smells great but much more like an APA

Taste: A malt in line with the british ale styles: slightly toasty and a bit watery. A little bit sweet. Ends with a slight bitterness. Light taste.

Medium body; very drinkable.

Not the best of the style, but a tasty, highly drinkable brew.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A quite hazy - almost cloudy - and deep-amber colored body topped by a thin & creamy white cap that has limited holding capabilities. The aroma is richly malty (similar to Munich malt) with a touch of diacetyl, gently fruity, and displays a minor hop note if you swirl the glass enough to bring it up. The body is medium with a very fine, restrained carbonation that gives it an oily, smooth and lightly creamy mouthfeel. The flavor reflects the rich malt first seen in the aroma, although it's more caramelish here, with a firm hoppy balance that's more bitterness than flavor. It finishes dryish with some gently lingering maltiness, a mild fruitiness, a soft note of buttery diacetyl, and a touch of hop bitterness and flavor. Although it may sound complex here, it's actually quite straight-forward. I actually enjoy the light diacetyl here as it works well with the other characteristics of the beer and adds to the richness (as it sometimes seen in brown ales).

Photo of ElGordo
3.17/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one showed up in the BOTM shipment for February. Pours a strange-looking coppery/orange color with a smallish creamy head that lingers on the glass. Really strong nose of toffee, biscuit, caramel, and roasted malt. Palate is caramel malt, more bread/biscuit, very light hops, hint of orange. Creamy mouthfeel with a muted aftertaste of sweet roasted malt. The bottle says this is an ESB, BA says it's a red ale,and I have to side with BA. A decent beer, but not very true to style.

Photo of dirtylou
3.13/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz single, received as an extra in a trade from Warriorsoul

appearance: pours a murky copper-amber into a between the buns pint glass, quite cloudy, light beige head forms with not much retention and decent lacing

smell: oddly sour, vegetal aromas, toasty malt aromas, artificial sweetner characteristic, light caramel, peach-citrus

taste: certainly not like any esb i have ever sampled...delicate out of place sourness, grainy aftertaste, light caramel, toasty malt...different, but not all that great

mouthfeel: lightly watery, sour on the tongue, average-low carbonation

drinkability: not bad

Photo of tempest
3.11/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

OK, I can see where these guys are going with this beer. They're trying to turn a classic ESB into a full-flavored American amber. It doesn't work. The body is too thick, either from low attenuation or (possibly and) too much crystal malt. It comes off with a thick body like a 6-7% beer, which sort of negates the sessionability. Mouthfeel aside, the beer tastes like toffee malt with a dash of herbal citrus hops at the finish. So even for all that unfermented sugar thickening the beer, it doesn't seem terribly complex. I'd avoid this if I were you. It's not offensive, there are just better options out there.

Photo of beerluvr
3.48/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"Extra Special"? Hardly. "Bitter"? Not very. Pours out with a decent looking off white head that settles briskly over attractive reddish/amber clear liquid. The nose is clean, biscuity, somewhat weak maltiness with some caramel notes strewn about...where's the hops? The taste offers somewhat thin mouthfeel with tastes of crisp maltiness with a biscuit edge, very little fruitiness, very little hop bitterness...where's the hops? Finishes spritzy, light, unexciting...you win some, you lose some. This time I lost. I'll say this though, it would make a mighty fine lawnmower beer at the very least. But where's the hops??

Photo of russpowell
2.72/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Purchased in alexandria, va

Pours a hazed amber/ice tea color with 3 fingers of lively sand colored head. Very good lacing, some head retention & hazed all the way to the bottom

S: Jammy notes

T: Fruitty with some astringent notes up front. Some hop tea& then diathechyl. Some spicy hop & fruitty (apricot) notes follow, but notenough to save this.

MF: Light & prickly & not pleasant

Drinks slow, too astringent, not sure how long this one was sitting in a fridge in that store, but this failed to impress & makes me hesitant to try anything else from these guys. This really reminds me of one of my first (crappy) batches of homebrew, avoid

Photo of KTCamm
3.83/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours chocolately brown with touch of white foam. Laces.

Smells malty with some spices. Good blend.

Caramel malty taste with some hop. Light cola taste. Bitterness is buried and not overly dominant.

Evenly carbonated.

Tasty, good drinnker. Nice ale.

Photo of tjd112
3.23/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Chimay glass

A - Brown-ish copper color, thick head
S - Only subtle maltiness, with hoppiness reminiscent of an IPA.
T - Bitter, sort of a tea like flavor with some caramel notes.
M: Very dry
D: Despite having a low-alcohol content, I feel this is more of a sipper than something to wash down food with.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of Hagbard
2.59/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours deep orange with a small white head. It's hazy and cloudy, apparently unfiltered. The aroma is almost nonexistent, but what's there is a malty sweetness with a strange soapy note in the background. The taste is very underwhelming. There's not much there past a vague malty sweetness. Hops seem nonexistent. It finishes like it starts...there's a serious lack of flavor here. This is clearly a "crossover" beer, but I think it fails at even that. There isn't very much taste and what's there isn't terribly interesting or appealing.

Photo of tone77
3.11/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a caramel color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, mostly malts. Taste is mostly of malts, some hops present, not overly flavorful. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a fairly decent brew.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.26/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured a clear, cranberry-orange with a 1 finger creamy, light beige head that left a fair rim lacing. Visible carbonation was soft.

S: light with some dry orange peels and light fresh flowers.

T: spritzy orange juice with fresh orange grinds. A nice fruitiness of sour apples, sour caramel and some spruce hints were detected as well. Light dry caramel toasted grains, curaco oranges and citrus rounds things out.

M: light, oily slick in texture, and softly carbonated. Light spicy orange fade is experienced on the swallow.

D: Decent drinkability, but wouldn't be my first option.

Photo of philbe311
3.23/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Copper and bronze mix... Very little head, especially given a slightly rougher than usual pour...

S - Malt... Hints of corn and barley... Burnt sugars... Buttery...

T - Malt and butter... Toffee perhaps...

M - Creamy and medium bodied... Carbonation fights through...

D - Solid, but unspectacular... A nice brew worthy of consideration, but not one to be sought out or reverred...

Photo of tugdriver7
3.78/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

From the sampler pack (from Perfect Pour, of course). Poured a soft brown in the glass, with a huge fluffy head of foam that fell quickly but left a nice lacing of foam all the way down. A touch more carbonation than expected, but a nicely drinkable mouthfeel. Mild biscuity malt flavor with a subtle malt bitterness to round out the flavor profile. No strange aftertastes and was easily quaffed even after it warmed. Would make a nice session beer. Nothing fancy. Just flavorful and refreshing.

Photo of PEBKAC
1.78/5  rDev -44%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Nice seeing fresh River Horse around town again. Say hello to the handsome hippo on the label posing for the portrait. :)

Big forceful spurt as the cap comes off. Poured into a cheapie pint glass.

Not a gusher, but it pours like one. Several inches of off-white insulation foam stiffen up & park it. Underneath, it's murky & gunky, & a little less appetizing then your standard amber. Pebble-sized bits & floaters litter the bottom of the glass.

Smell is a lot of caramel that I wasn't expecting. ...and a whole lot of butter. Really obvious amounts of greasy margarine. Was this recipe part of the list of reformulated beers? I was assured this was fresh. Oh man, that is ugly. I mean, I sort of like this is some beers, but that's not what I was looking forward to.

Taste is... gah... really sweet. "...careful addition of carapils malt adds a slight sweetness you might mistake for honey." Eek! Maple candies, honey spread, buttermilk creaminess. Not much stickiness, just spoonfuls of sugar. A little toast & burnt newspaper on the very back of it, & maybe a squirt of orange zest in there somewhere, but that's it. This is like a really bad attempt at a Biere de Miel clone.

Carbonation is well to do, but that alone won't help me finish this. The pale is a so much better sessioner then this weak reach around. Not really offensive, but just impossible(for me at least). Probably could waste the rest of this on an orange glaze for some chicken though.

Photo of mikesgroove
2.97/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An ESB from my home state, what would there be not too like. I was anxious to give this one a whirl and grabbed it for lunch yesterday. Unfortunately things did not go entirely as planned. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 08/23/2009.

Appearance 2.5 - A foamy mess here. Not a gusher but about as close to one as I care to get. Took about three pours to get the whole bottle into a glass, not the way we care to start out the day for sure.

Aroma 3 - Light hops here, not terribly aromatic at all. Pine maybe? Not really discernable. Lots of grain and light fruit notes.

Taste 3 - Same here, grain steels the show with a light touch of almost peach like fruit coming through, not much at all in the way of hops ever really comes through, which really is a shame.

Feel 3 - Over carbonated, it had the seltzer kind of effect to it for sure. Got in the way of the flavor at times and really was not winning me over by any stretch.

Drinkability 3 - Ehh, I mean it's not terrible, but I would not really being going out anywhere looking for it, I have had worse.

Overall - I will have to pass on going through with round two on this one. Again nothing terrible here but I will have to pass on this one.

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River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 162 ratings.