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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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 160 | Reviews: 134 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of garuda
3/5  rDev -5.4%

garuda, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -5.4%

djrn2, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of mdillon86
3/5  rDev -5.4%

mdillon86, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of touchmeimsac
3/5  rDev -5.4%

touchmeimsac, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of patm1986
4/5  rDev +26.2%

patm1986, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle from Total Wine, Cherry Hill, NJ

A very nice and smooth ESB. Nothing extraordinary here, but still a good simple selection. At least I thought so. Maybe I need to revisit with my somewhat updated palate.

Poured a murky, reddish-brown with a small whitish head. Toasted malts in the aroma, with a bit of sour fruit coming through. Caramel malts in the taste mostly, nutty, with some sweet fruitiness in the background--orange and apricot--and some hop bitterness for balance, but with the malts clearly taking control. Medium mouthfeel, leaves a bit of a film in the mouth, but still fairly drinkable.

Rifugium, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of generallee
3.93/5  rDev +24%
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.

generallee, May 20, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
2.98/5  rDev -6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a deep amber color. This beer has virtually no head on it. The pour and appearance is rather boring. The smell is mostly caramel malts, has a sweet aroma. There is basically no hop aroma at all. The mouthfeel is a little heavier than medium. Really not much else to brag about this one, not the best ESB out there.

Knapp85, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of Brianjames16
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!

Brianjames16, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of Thads324
2.55/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a perfect pint :

A: pours a deep amber/copper with a honey glow, white head that dissipates quickly to nothing.

S: smells of sour fruit and old apples. Very little hop aroma, just sweet and then sour fruit.

T: a sweet malt followed by more of the sweet and almost old fruit flavor. There's a hint of hop towards the end but it isn't all that noticeable with all the odd sweet fruit flavor.there's a biscuit malt after taste with a slight hop at the end.

M : little carbonation with a slight linger of this fruit.

D: weak, real weak

Disappointed in a brewery I'm usually high on. Seems like a poor blend of malts. I don't know if it's old or what. Not a fan at all...not an esb at all

Thads324, Feb 04, 2011
Photo of zoso1967
3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served up a deep reddish amber color with a head that is light tan. The head has both nice staying power and good lacing capabilities.

The aroma is a bit underwhelming. Malty and fruity with a bit of a buttered toast like thing going on. I am not picking up any hops at all.

The flavor is a bit better, with the fruit mingling with a fairly nice butter toffee taste. It has some toast and caramel flavors as well as a pretty hefty amount of fruitiness that reminds me of an overripe peach. There is little bit of an herbal hop component, but not as much as I was hoping for.

The mouthfeel is medium with a nice balanced finish. It seems like it is just a little bit over carbonated and it drinks an awful lot like an American style beer than a British one.

I suppose this is drinkable, but it really just doesn't ring my bell. Not a bad beer, but not a very good one either.

zoso1967, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of KTCamm
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.

KTCamm, Oct 24, 2010
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
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.

JoeyBeerBelly, Sep 21, 2010
Photo of jmdrpi
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

jmdrpi, Aug 07, 2010
Photo of mrgrinch
4/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Caramel brown with light carbonation. It was served in a plastic sample cup at the brewery, so I could not really get a good look at the clarity.

Smell - A sweet buttery smell.

Taste - Sweet tastes that fades to a bitter.

Mouthability - Thick and nice.

Drinkability - ESB is not my favorite style, but this one is one that I would try again if I was in the mood for such a thing. I did enjoy it more than the Ship Inn ESB I had earlier in the day.

mrgrinch, Jul 31, 2010
Photo of aahynick
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.

aahynick, Jul 20, 2010
Photo of JunkYardJake
2.68/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into pint glass.
Redesigned bottle says nothing about being an ESB. Pours a dark amber wich looks brown at certain angles. Small head that fizzles quickly. Smell throws me for a loop since I was expecting an american amber, which is what the bottle says. Heavy toffee malts with some toasted grain and a little butterscotch. Taste follows the nose pretty well. Malt forward, a little buttery and some caramel and licorice. Tastes much bigger than 4.5% as I notice bit of alcohol on the palate. Mouthfeel is a little chewy. Went down easy enough but I'm glad I only have one.

JunkYardJake, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of tempest
3.1/5  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.

tempest, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of HeroicDoses
2.58/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a midnight copper with a long lasting fluffy head. Looks pretty good in a pint glass. Smell is average at best...nothing to write home about. Has a caramel taste, but falls a little flat. Overall nothing really jumps out about this beer. Almost like you really have to search for it's character. In the end though it's not that bad, it basically comes off as just an average beer. To me River Horse overdoes it more often than not (Hop A Lot A Mus for example), but this beer does the opposite (it doesn't do enough). The finish is like eating an actual caramel...sticky and sweet. Would I buy this again? No. But would I say it's crap? No. It's just an average beer.

HeroicDoses, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of magnj
3.78/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep copper body is very clear though I stopped pouring when I saw some yeasties coming out towards the end. Head is generous with an off white color. Some small carbonation bubbles apparent. Some lacing.

S - Malt forward obviously, slightly musty like a standard brew pub type ESB or amber. Caramel and vaguely toasty and a little bready. Nice smell reminiscent of many others I've had but rarely find in a bottle.

T - Well balanced, starts of malty with toast and mild caramel. Towards the middle I get a bit of hop flavor an bitterness, it finishes dry and bready. Nothing really dominates and that's the point, well balanced, full flavored and enjoyable. After going back and reading some reviews, I definitely get the apple thing.

M/D - Carbonation is there but not a ton, pretty average mouthfeel. Not too thin, not really silky or chewy. It's just there. Not much residual sugar, which when coupled with its balanced flavor and low ABV makes for a great session beer. My only gripe is that it's still close to $10 at my local shop, RH would make a killing if they could undercut other craft brews.

magnj, Apr 10, 2010
Photo of jhammel01
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.

jhammel01, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of ToasterChef
2.63/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a cellar temperature beer into a pint glass. The beer is clear with a light brown color. There was a large head of small off-white bubbles. There is a lot of carbonation rising within; A lot of bubbles are clinging to the sides and bottom of the glass. It looks as though it is over carbonated. It has a mild hop aroma that is slightly off in some way. Maybe it is all the gas coming form the dissipating head that is influencing the smell. There is touch of hop to the flavor, but it's hardly strong enough to call this an ESB. Otherwise it tastes watery and slightly piney. It has a light body and a ton of carbonation. I can feel bubbles in every corner of my mouth. There is a little coating, but nothing memorable. What is more noticeable is the feeling my stomach has with all of this gas in it, even after just a few sips. I'm afraid this beer is going to make me burp a few times. All of this carbonation makes this glass hard to finish. I will say that this bottle is a little old, and that may be why the flavor isn't that bitter and there is so much carbonation. I don't think I get another bottle of this, unless I knew it was very fresh.

ToasterChef, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of keanex
2.95/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bought at a local Canal's to support the local New Jersey brewing scene.

Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Dark brown cloudy beer, with a thin head that disappeared rather fast. Lacing retains though.

No scent me or my friends could notice. Very disappointed.

Tastes like a slightly better Budweiser. A bolder Budweiser as my friend says. Very let down.

Medium bodied beer with high carbonation.

Very drinkable with a low ABR.

keanex, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of saccro
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).

saccro, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of tone77
3.1/5  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.

tone77, Mar 01, 2010
River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.