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River Horse Special Ale ESB - River Horse Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
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%
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-01-2002)
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Ratings: 160 | Reviews: 134 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of claspada
claspada

New Jersey

3.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep orange with a very large off white head with good retention.

Aromas begin with sweet pale malt and some light honey/caramel. As it warms you get some slight doughy, roasted maltiness with a bit of earthy hoppiness.

The tastes follow the nose with light caramel, toasted bready maltiness with some light toffee flavors as well. Light and clean earthy hoppiness emerges more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is light bodied with medium to high carbonation. Finish is lightly dry and earthy but mainly clean and crisp.

Overall this is a decent, flavorful and balanced ESB. Nothing to mind-blowing but quite satifying considering the ABV, but nothing close to the traditional quality English examples or even as good as many American interpretations.

Serving type: bottle

09-24-2012 15:43:35 | More by claspada
Photo of RBorsato
RBorsato

Virginia

3.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tasting #2: Not even sure that it's exactly the same beer but obviously not far off considering I did my second review blind of the first and not much different in the score dept...

Golden copper color with a low white ringed head, no to low carbonation, and no lace. Lightly sweet caramel malt aroma. Sweet caramel malt flavor but not quite overly sweet; certainly not balanced to the ESB style. Medium bodied but flat.

Overall a malt heavy ESB with little hop character... Pass.

Per label: "Caramel malt, Carapils malt"

($6.99 / 6-pack)

===
Original Tasting notes from mixed pack on 7/21/03:
All 3.5's scored...

Dark gold, light amber color with a low beige head and fairly low carbonation. Light spicy malt aroma (maybe a touch of Vienna or Munich Malt ?). Malty "Oktoberfestish" type flavor with no hop characteristics. Medium bodied and smooth.

Per 12-pack Carrier: "Smooth Amber Ale"

Serving type: bottle

07-21-2003 17:00:20 | More by RBorsato
Photo of ROGUE16
ROGUE16

Delaware

3/5  rDev -5.4%

12-07-2011 13:45:27 | More by ROGUE16
Photo of whartontallboy
whartontallboy

New York

2.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Light copper pour, medium-sized white head that didn't retain very well. Not much carbonation, either.

Smell is thin malt with a significant off note that has an almost metallic scent. There's some baked bread, etc, but that's about it.

The flavor is similarly weak with bready malt, but the off note in it just keeps coming through. It's kind of a metallic sweetness that I've noticed in some other River Horse beers. The maltiness could use some notable hop presence to round it out; as it is, it's just kind of malty with the metallic note and a hint of diacetyl.

Overall: Eh. Pretty weak, especially to call itself an ESB. The "S" stands for "special!"

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2005 00:18:56 | More by whartontallboy
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
LilBeerDoctor

New York

3.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 10/26/2009. Bottle. Pours a slightly hazy amber/brown with a thick off-white head. Aroma of sweet malt, oatmeal, light spices, overall kind of odd. Flavor of tons of sweet fruits: peach, apricot, pear and apple. Not really a fan of the aroma, but I'm really enjoying the fruitiness. Reminds me of one of those canned mixed fruit cups. I didn't have high hopes for this beer initially, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2009 03:43:24 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of Pencible
Pencible

Virginia

2.68/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This poured a hazy honey color with tons of off-white head (foamed out of the bottle as soon as I popped the top). It smelled like polished copper and grass and lemon hops, with fresh wheat and dusty barley. It tasted like copper and wild yeast and lemon hops, with some barley. It was watery with tons of carbonation, and had a bitter aftertaste. Overall this was a super fizzy beer that had decent flavor but was pretty bland. It was tough to enjoy or critique through all the carbonation. I'm not a fan.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2009 15:17:17 | More by Pencible
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
JoeyBeerBelly

New York

2.42/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - dark amber color with a light beige head that thiined out leaving a little lacing.
S - an odd bitter aroma.
T - again it is bitter but has an odd sort of bitterness, almost buttery.
F - light/medium body with a flat feel.
D - I got halfway through and decided enough was enough... 1/2 drain pour.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2010 00:59:19 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
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 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 IPAchris
IPAchris

Pennsylvania

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

11-13-2012 00:30:52 | More by IPAchris
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 NJpadreFan
NJpadreFan

New Jersey

2.95/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2005 00:08:32 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of jmdrpi
jmdrpi

Pennsylvania

3.78/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

poured into nonic pint glass
A - deep ruby copper color, thin tan head, opaque. nice lacing
S - crisp sugary malt, just a touch of hops
T - nice mild balance of malt body and hops finish. clean finish.
M - moderate to high carbonation, fairly thin body
D - nice mild flavors and low abv would make this a good session beer

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2010 21:13:51 | More by jmdrpi
Photo of mcallister
mcallister

Ohio

2.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A very opaque copper orange. Poured this one hard to no avail very little head, thin thin lacing with no retention. I do like the color of this beer.

Sour caramel malty aromas. Smells of sweet white fruits not very distinguishable. Slight peach and nectarine with a delicate hop ending.

Thin watery mouthfeel to this one. Lacking any sort of complexity. Basically a semi sweet caramel malt flavor with not much else going on. Very little hop presence.

Not one I will buy again.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2006 20:16:47 | More by mcallister
Photo of dsa7783
dsa7783

New Jersey

3.48/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single, twelve-ounce bottle just copped from Super Saver Liquors on Route 22...
Pours a dark-copper hue with hardly any head and very minimal lacing...
Faint, malty aroma with hints of butter and biscuits...
Taste strongly complemented the smell, with a strong nuance of bread, butter, light caramel, and candied sugars...
Overall, a decent stab at the style, yet mild in taste and unassertive in flavor...
Nothing to write home about...

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2008 20:36:37 | More by dsa7783
Photo of mdillon86
mdillon86

Pennsylvania

3/5  rDev -5.4%

11-26-2011 14:00:20 | More by mdillon86
Photo of BeerForMuscle
BeerForMuscle

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev +10.4%

05-27-2013 19:53:22 | More by BeerForMuscle
Photo of cliff1066
cliff1066

Virginia

3/5  rDev -5.4%

12-24-2012 03:14:00 | More by cliff1066
Photo of RonfromJersey
RonfromJersey

New Jersey

3.43/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Copper color body. Decent head which doesn't linger. Little to no lacing. Very malty without being overly sweet, a little chocolate tone in the taste/aftertaste. Not spectacular, but went nice (3 bottles nice) with dinner at deli where single selections were running a little low, so I went local.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2002 19:49:21 | More by RonfromJersey
Photo of lackenhauser
lackenhauser

Maryland

2.03/5  rDev -36%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Decent enough orangeish color.No head to speak of.Carbonation seems low.Very earth/bready and not much more.Green bananas?Flavor isnt extra or special or bitter.Smooth but really lacks something.Doesnt seem to go anywhere or do anything.Drinkable enough but theres a lot more out there at the same price that packs a lot more flavor.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2004 02:47:36 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of KTCamm
KTCamm

New Jersey

3.85/5  rDev +21.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 12:38:13 | More by KTCamm
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 JDV
JDV

Texas

3.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Kramer17801. Thanks man!
Pours a nice amber color. Mostly clear with a short lived white head. Smell is fruity, nutty and toffee like, with light chocolate. Really nice for an ESB. Taste is lightly chocolatey, with toffee and some pecan like flavor, and fruity tones. Richer than expected and much better that the ratings indicate. I liked this one.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 18:17:48 | More by JDV
Photo of Gambrinus1184
Gambrinus1184

Connecticut

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

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a Sunset Grill & Tap pint glass.

A: Pours a light, golden amber color with a chilled haze and a thin head of white bubbles which leaves little to no lace.

S: Smells of British malts, a bit of spiciness and a sweet herbal aroma. Toasted bread and a bit of honey are noted too.

T: The label says certain malts might be mistaken for honey, and they are correct. A semisweet honey, toasted biscuit and malt flavor comes through this disappointing bitterness. Very mild and drinkable, but not enough flavor going on.

M: Mouthfeel is thin-medium bodied and slightly bitter in the finish.

D: A drinkable brew, but only because of the lower ABV and mouthfeel. The slightly sweet and bitter taste might satisfy some palates, but even in a style mimicking a milder English ESB, I'd expect more flavor and complexity. You're better off sampling and moving on.

Not a terrible beer, but a bit of a letdown. Clean, drinkable and subtle with its sweet and bitter flavors. Water shares a few of these attributes as well. I could have stood a bit more spiciness and bitter English malts, but instead, was left with a mediocre ESB. All in all, it's worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2008 05:29:27 | More by Gambrinus1184
Photo of bonbini26
bonbini26

New Jersey

2.5/5  rDev -21.1%

01-10-2012 17:45:35 | More by bonbini26
River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.