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River Horse Special Ale ESB - River Horse Brewing Co.

River Horse Special Ale ESBRiver Horse Special Ale ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
74
okay

160 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 160
Reviews: 134
rAvg: 3.17
pDev: 14.51%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-01-2002)
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Ratings: 160 | Reviews: 134 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of micromaniac129
micromaniac129

Pennsylvania

3.33/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this at TJ Smith's and it was okay. if they had a better tap selection last night we wouldn't be talking today. Pours a plain average, came to me clear amber but with nary any carbonation and utterly lacking off head.
Aroma was basically just caramel malts with hardly anything to speak of. Taste is plain and average tasting with malts. There is a sutle nutty finish. Drinks smooth but feels abrasive with a bitter or grain husk finish.
No I don't really much care for this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-12-2012 16:13:11 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of saccro
saccro

Pennsylvania

3.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - straight-up amber. nice lasting head. good belgian lace. Cream-colored head. A little hazy.

S - very fruity aromatics from yeast. very little hop aroma. good bready malt aroma.

T - fruity. Tastes kinda like fruit cocktail (peach/pear). grainy aftertaste. delayed bitterness. no real malt flavor. Kinda average. Clean.

M - medium body. medium carbonation.

D - easy to drink. quenching. nothing special (despite name).

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2010 19:25:10 | More by saccro
Photo of Suds
Suds

Pennsylvania

3.28/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I guess that I had higher hopes for this beer.
Copper color with a faint head. Subtle and delicate balance of musty hop and worty-malt aroma. Overall, the smell is pretty good...just way too faint. Caramel-ish foretaste and slightly sweet and hoppy finish. Overall, the beer is light-bodied and un-challenging. Strictly middle of the road.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2003 01:39:22 | More by Suds
Photo of beerthulhu
beerthulhu

New Jersey

3.28/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2008 22:55:31 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of goz
goz

Massachusetts

3.25/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2003 01:32:35 | More by goz
Photo of Foxman
Foxman

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It pours a brownish copper, clear, crisp, and carbonated, with a beige head of pillowy froth that retains well. There is some moderate lacing on the glass that drips away quickly.

The aroma brings a very rounded but discernible balance of toasted malt and hops bitterness, with the sweetness slightly more poignant. At the close the bitterness lingers just a bit longer then fades away.

The first wash of flavor carries a biscuity darker malt essence, with a slight caramel cream note. The hops play some small role, but in more a sensatory manner than as a component of taste. A yeasty tang, almost tinny, asserts toward the end, before a dull hops bitterness lingers at the finish.

Just a little more than light bodied, it slides across the palate, spending little time on board. The dry hops tingle is no much for any food that gets heaped upon it.

So it seemed to me that choosing the beer of a relatively local brewery would be a good way to go when we took my oldest to his favorite wings place for his birthday. Well, I think I was wrong, because they had Sam on tap as well. The overall effect is certainly one of balance, but the contributing factors are bordering on insubtantial. With no distinct malt or hops profile to sink my teeth into it comes across, in the end, as disappointing. And yes, it is certainly drinkable, and a better choice than the macros available there, but considering there was at least one stronger option, then I'll consider this a lesson learned and pass on it the next time.

Serving type: on-tap

03-24-2004 16:52:12 | More by Foxman
Photo of beveragecaptain
beveragecaptain

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle. Very clear copper. Malty aroma with a touch of honey. The malt and hop flavors are pretty evenly balanced, and there is a nice lemon zestiness, but all the flavors are too weak. Watery mouthfeel, and the carbonation is too high. All the beers I've had from River Horse remind me of each other: nothing really bad about them, just not all that interesting.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2005 03:35:38 | More by beveragecaptain
Photo of GCBrewingCo
GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the glass tea colored with a very slight haze. The head was frothy and tall and large bubbled. The bottle opened with a noticeable whoosh and with a large release of carbonation.

The aroma was slightly corny (DMS) followed by a light caramel and a low fruity aspect.

The flavor was light caramel with a nice fruity component. The flavors were difficult to acertain with such a high carbonation level. The carbonic bite in the flavor was high. The bittering of the beer was low, but kept the caramel malt from becoming overpowering. As the carbonation dropped off more bready flavors emerged.

The finish was dry with a slight lasting caramel and a very low fruit character. The body was medium, but the carbonation level was off the charts making it seem much less. Not a bad beer, but nothing to get excited about or to seek out.

12 ounce bottle purchased at Vintage Cellar.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2005 21:02:20 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of EStreet20
EStreet20

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, shaker pint.

A - Nice copper color. Finger and a half of chinky off white head. Looks pretty nice.

S - Weak smell of sugary malts.

T - Taste is pretty decent. A smooth, clean tasting brew. A bit of sugary sweetness in there. Decently balanced.

M - Medium body lets you take deep sips.

D - Coud be a good session beer at 4.5 % abv but more flavor would be nice.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2007 02:31:40 | More by EStreet20
Photo of orcasteve
orcasteve

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

this smells beter than it acualy tastes, it is a nice amber color and pours with minimal head, this is a little sweet then bland than a hop kiss. this one is avarage, its beter than any macro brew (budwiser) but its nouthing special. i gess that it is too sweet for my taste

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2008 11:58:51 | More by orcasteve
Photo of philbe311
philbe311

Pennsylvania

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%
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...

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2008 01:42:14 | More by philbe311
Photo of tjd112
tjd112

New Jersey

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2009 04:09:30 | More by tjd112
Photo of aahynick
aahynick

Florida

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

45F in a pilsner glass

A- instant crazy foam, dark gold

S- mild spicy aroma

T- almost flavorless, after warming a lot, maltyness comes out

M - easy, medium body

D- I really liked the body on this one but with almost no flavor and a nightmare pour I'd give it a pass everytime.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2010 17:30:11 | More by aahynick
Photo of marc77
marc77

California

3.18/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazed copper hue covered by a lean, but dense and steadfast off white head. Sparse lace remains. Medium lovibond caramel with a slight buttery biscuit twang upfront in aroma. Sweet floral, mildly perfume like hop nose. Maltose rich, wort like hints surface as the brew breathes. Clean and tame aromawise. In flavor, the prevalent malt character is a combination of dilute toffee and toasted pale malt. Mellow butterscotch undertone. Mild in hop bitterness, but appropriately matched to the stately, simple residual sweetness. Leafy hop flavor melds with toasted malt component to lend a sweetened, cool black tea like impression. A tad skimpy in body and well attenuated, with a thinnish, lanky mouthfeel. Finishes with fading hints of watered down biscuit and brown sugar. An underwhelming amber that lacks inspiration but succeeds in passable drinkability. Balanced, but prosaic.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2004 09:02:32 | More by marc77
Photo of jhammel01
jhammel01

New Jersey

3.18/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown like a brown ale. Pretty much matches the bottle it came from. Off white coffee colored head with plenty of healthy lacing.

No smell at all. I hate that, I wish it had more of an aroma....

A clean hoppy tasting brew. Plenty of hops up front that finishes with plenty of malty breadiness with an almost burnt hop taste. Kind of odd. Mainly just hop bitterness. Not bad at all.

The beer is medium bodied with a ton of carbonation. Good for the style.

A pretty good beer. My 1st from this brewer. Sometimes I feel like I expect every beer to be a huge monster of a beer and it shouldnt be. So if you are looking for a huge hop bomb, this isnt it. But in every way, this is a good solid beer. Its just unfortunate that I picked up no scent at all.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2010 01:09:52 | More by jhammel01
Photo of ElGordo
ElGordo

Oregon

3.15/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2004 06:13:27 | More by ElGordo
Photo of matty
matty

Pennsylvania

3.15/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is malty.Taste is malty with a bready aftertaste.Overall there's not much going on.It's kind of bland and boring.This is where you can use the term "run of the mill".I wouldn't waste my time with another one nor would I waste anybody elses time by recommending it.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2009 03:48:14 | More by matty
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.13/5  rDev -1.3%
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

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2006 01:54:07 | More by dirtylou
Photo of macster
macster

Florida

3.13/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky amber-brown color with a wafer thin white head. Weak aroma of crystal malt, honey and dark fruits. Initial mouthfeel is thin and watery. Flavor is dominated by the sweetness and mild herbal spiciness with little to no hop presence. Perhaps the "company's leading seller" because it is so middle-of-the-road and unremarkable?

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2009 06:18:59 | More by macster
Photo of Brianjames16
Brianjames16

New York

3.13/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Pours a very dark amber color with a slight haze on the bottom. One finger width cream colored head on top. Relatively thick lacing sticks around.

S- Roasted caramel malts mixed with some bread and coffee notes. This reminds me more of a stout than a ESB.

T- Nice roasty flavors with big caramel/bready malts on the pallet. Some honey and spices in the backround.

M- Medium bodied beer with full flavors. Coats the mouth a little like a stout.

O- Somewhat interesting and easy to drink. Nothing amazing here but nothing horrid either. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2011 01:44:20 | More by Brianjames16
Photo of Omnium
Omnium

Pennsylvania

3.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle > Pint Glass
A - Pours a reddish brown color nice 1 finger head of an off white tint, no real lacing though.
S - Caramel and toffee malts, an odd alcohol scent, but there's not much alcohol in this beer? Some sour candies and stale bread as well.
T - Tastes like a bad brown ale, all malt flavors with barely any hops or even bitterness. Very bland, and mildly tart
M - Thin fizzy, no good flavors resonating (not that there were any to begin with)
O - Horrid example of an ESB, River Horse needs to go back to the books on this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2013 01:23:26 | More by Omnium
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2004 10:30:39 | More by Billolick
Photo of WesWes
WesWes

New York

3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a golden color with a thin white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. I has a pale and carapils malt scent with a musty breadlike aroma. The taste is average. It has a thin, bitter flavor that boasts of pale and some light crystal malts. It goes down quick and finishes dry with some hops in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is average as well. It is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a decent drinker, but I'm really not sure what style this is. It's not really and amber/red ale and it's not really a ESB. If anyone can figure it out, please let me know.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2005 01:37:15 | More by WesWes
Photo of tgbljb
tgbljb

Pennsylvania

3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Upon its emergence from the botlle, the beer presented itself as a deep amber liquid with boisterous white puffy head that fell to a chunky coating that refused to leave. The aroma is a toasty sweetness that was immensely pleasureable to the nose. Where is the taste? I can detect a slight presence of malt, but I feel its really trying to hide. Finish is sweet and a bit dry but reallly is unremarkable. The beer was very easy to drink because there flavor was so light.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2005 00:04:23 | More by tgbljb
Photo of BeardedBoffin
BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 ounce bottle of River Horse ESB poured into a pint glass revealed a fairly attractive dark amber ale with a nice appropriate head. The aroma was very light, but I think there was some barely detectable hints of grain and a smaller hint of hops. Nice carbonation on the palate and fairly light bodied. The flavor was similar to the aroma, mainly grain with almost no hops. I was hoping for a bit more.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2008 00:44:43 | More by BeardedBoffin
River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.