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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 RBorsato
RBorsato

Virginia

3.38/5  rDev +6.6%

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"

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

New York

3.35/5  rDev +5.7%

I poured this into a pint glass but didn't notice much froth (becasue ESBs apparently have low carbonation).

Smell was sweet and really estery with strong fruity hints.

The flavor was slightly dissapointing: it was neither pronounced nor subtle. In other words, it wasn't there. You could easily sense the sweet undertones but it was very impossible to identify any flavors per se. This ale has such a light body and feels just like water especially right after you swallowed it. I had part of this ale with blueberry waffles and ended up appreciating it a little bit more but I wouldn't call this ale anything but slightly above average. So much for it being the flagship ale of River Horse!

03-26-2006 18:46:20 | More by Amar
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

3.35/5  rDev +5.7%

Pours a decent copper with a touch of chill haze. Not much head and no lacing. Smell is extremely light but with a touch of metal and dry malt. Taste isn't bad. Clean, slightly metallic, very slight hint of dry malt, touch of bakers chocolate and floral hops. Mouthfeel is a little slick. Pretty drinkable session beer. Not very alcoholic, fairly lightly flavored and clean but with a touch of decent flavor. Not my favorite, but I wouldn't complain if this was a fallback at a bar with mostly bmc.

07-17-2007 21:09:03 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of originalsin
originalsin

California

3.35/5  rDev +5.7%

The pour is a deep amber with little head.
Smells somewhat interesting. Floral hop aromas and caramel malts dominate.
This beer doesn't exactly taste like an ESB- there are too many sweet malt flavors going on for me and the bitterness is very mellow.
Otherwise, the beer is medium bodied, well carbonated, and pretty drinkable.

06-20-2009 02:00:54 | More by originalsin
Photo of micromaniac129
micromaniac129

Pennsylvania

3.33/5  rDev +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.

02-12-2012 16:13:11 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of Gambrinus1184
Gambrinus1184

Connecticut

3.33/5  rDev +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.

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

Pennsylvania

3.3/5  rDev +4.1%

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).

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

New Jersey

3.28/5  rDev +3.5%

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.

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

Pennsylvania

3.28/5  rDev +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.

12-28-2003 01:39:22 | More by Suds
Photo of Varkias41
Varkias41

New Jersey

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

08-22-2013 18:09:33 | More by Varkias41
Photo of EBeckett3
EBeckett3

New Jersey

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

08-15-2013 03:24:41 | More by EBeckett3
Photo of buzzy
buzzy

Pennsylvania

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

03-11-2014 02:20:02 | More by buzzy
Photo of goz
goz

Massachusetts

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

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.

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

Pennsylvania

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

11-13-2012 00:30:52 | More by IPAchris
Photo of DSlim71
DSlim71

New Jersey

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

03-12-2012 16:22:41 | More by DSlim71
Photo of rorjets
rorjets

Connecticut

3.25/5  rDev +2.5%

01-11-2014 21:15:08 | More by rorjets
Photo of beveragecaptain
beveragecaptain

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%

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.

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

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%

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.

03-24-2004 16:52:12 | More by Foxman
Photo of EStreet20
EStreet20

New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%

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.

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

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%

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.

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

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev +1.9%

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

07-05-2008 11:58:51 | More by orcasteve
Photo of tjd112
tjd112

New Jersey

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%

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

10-27-2009 04:09:30 | More by tjd112
Photo of philbe311
philbe311

Pennsylvania

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%

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...

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

Florida

3.2/5  rDev +0.9%

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.

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

California

3.18/5  rDev +0.3%

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.

03-12-2004 09:02:32 | More by marc77
River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
74 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.