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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

162 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 162
Reviews: 135
rAvg: 3.17
pDev: 14.83%
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: 162 | Reviews: 135 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lightly hazed copper with a medium-small head. Nose is malt, husky grain and some caramel. Fairly dry in flavour, with a light toast and some faint herbal notes. Light in body but not overcarbonated and finishes fairly cleanly. Good, sessionable ale.

Photo of dacrza1
3.53/5  rDev +11.4%
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 daliandragon
3.53/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Aquired a mixed twelve of these Jersey beers this afternoon at St James Beverage in the suburban hamlet of the same name. Color is pale, golden brown with los of carbonation and minimal head. Looks almost like a cider or a cream soda or something. Nose is mild with hops and fruit and that pleasant bitterness associated with English ale.
Taste is slightly watery for a bitter and could stand to have the principal flavors juiced up forty percent or so. Mouthfeel, again, is agreeable but fairly flat and not overly impressive.
This isn't a horrible effort but needs to focus the aim and produce a unifying taste that can be strengthened by continual repetition, this is just not quite right. However, if you like the style this is worth taking a flyer on.

Photo of thespaceman
3.53/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass:

Appearance: Pours a light amber in color, a small head emerges and quickly dissipates into thin wisps of lacing. Bubbles stream up the glass from the carbonation. This beer shows nice and clear with minimal haze.

Smell: Up front is a plethora of fruit, a touch of butterscotch and some caramel malt shows off a nicely balanced backbone. I get bits of light esters, almost apple like. Not a boring nose just not enough to write home about.

Taste: The maltiness shows off nicely in the taste, as in the taste, I get a lot of caramel properties, it's sweet yet well reserved. Bits of apple, and lighter side of fruit florals show a well balanced beer here. Finish consists of a drop of honey and some sweetness from the malt.

Mouthfeel: Slightly bitter, good carbonation all around. Medium bodied mouthfeel with a slight bit of slickness on the tongue.

Drinkability: Overall, a very drinkable ESB. I like the notes of honey like sweetness and caramel in here, they really smooth things out. At 4.5%, it's very drinkable and east to throw back a few. A good offering from a very solid brewery.

Photo of EPICAC
3.55/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was another beer served on cask. Again, it was served lightly chilled in a mug. River Horse ESP pours a very cloudy, copper color. The aroma is mild overall, but what's there is pleasant: toasty malts, and citric and fruity hops. The aromas could stand to grab you a little bit more.

Toasty malts first hit the tongue followed by a light, bready sweetness. The flavors quickly move into a citric and herbal hop finish. The flavors are pleasant, but seem a bit muddled, with nothing really standing out. This ESB is light-bodied with low carbonation and a husky texture in the finish.

This is a decent session beer, though I think it could be a bit bolder without sacrificing drinkability.

Photo of SLeffler27
3.55/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB builds a nice firm head that quickly recedes to a patchy lace. The ale itself is a clear, new-penny copper with columns of fine carbonation. Also, the label has great artwork.

The aroma leans more to the sweet side of the spectrum with fresh apples. This is a pleasant aroma, but lends little to a discussion.

River Horse's ESB is a simple, lightly-bittered ale with definite bready malts. In the finish, one will find some butter tones and minimal pine.

This one has a medium body that is smooth and easy flowing.

A nice beer for a tailgate party or the game itself. The simple flavors compliment the activity rather than taking center stage. And... it comes from a great New Jersey town on the banks of the Delaware River.

Date consumed: 6 July 2008

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.6/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A darn solid beer right here. Pours a cloudy brownish color, some lacing seen on the glass. Smell is of caramel and some roastiness. Taste is medium bodied, some nice caramel notes come through with subtle hops. Nice smoothness to this one.. a little bit boring taste wise but a good beer overall.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.63/5  rDev +14.5%
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 bonkers
3.63/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my SA pint glass. It pours a hazy copper with a moderate white head, a bit of lacing. The aroma is a bit sweet, a bit grassy. The beer is a bit sweet on the palate, nothing real complex. The bottle is right, it almost taste like it has honey in it. The beer is a light bodied session beer, that is very easily drinkable.

Photo of dmamiano
3.63/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Rudy in color, wit ha nice head.
Smells was malty, bready with notes of caramel.
Taste was very smooth. Big in malt lent to a nice full mouthfeel.
No hoppiness really evident. Very smooth with no real bitterness.
I was expecting a little more in the bitterness at the end, but good non the less.
Not sure it was true to style.

Photo of JDV
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.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
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.

Photo of woodychandler
3.7/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured with a thick, off-white head that actually had decent retention. The nose had a malty sweetness to it. The color was a sightly cloudy orangish-amber. The mouthfeel was medium and I got a big, malty flavor on the tongue. The finish was more hoppy than what I experienced in the mouth, but there was still a good bit of sweetness to it. I wouldn't mind drinking this beer on a regular basis, regardless of the time of year.

Photo of maddogruss
3.73/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got a bottle of this in a River Horse mixer.

A: Pours a murky, amber body with a small, white head with decent retention and lacing until the finish.

S: A sweet, toffee roasted malt smell with some bitter notes.

T: A decent, roasted toffee, malt taste that was pretty nice. Slight bitterness was evident underneath the malts as well as within the aftertaste. As it warmed up, a slight muskiness developed later one to really start balancing out the bitterness.

M: A fairly smooth and crisp mouthfeel that was nice in complimenting the beer.

D: A nice mouthfeel and taste combination makes this beer pretty drinkable. The crispness is refreshing and a slight muskiness of the sweet malts did well to balance the beer later on.

Photo of GnomeKing
3.73/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The carbonation is vigorous at first, with bubbles that you can feel popping on your tongue and lips. At this point, you'll taste moderate hops well blended with sweet malts. About halfway through your pint glass, the mouthfeel will smooth out, even become slightly thin. By now, you'll notice, surprise, some banana flavors and heightened, but not overdone, sweetnees.

I'm surprised at how low this beer is rated. It's really drinkable and pleasant. Granted, it's not interesting or provocative, but not all beers can be or should be. This is a textbook session ale.

Photo of Brianmerrilyn
3.75/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

@08 Long Island Brew festival, poured into heffe glass, the color was beautiful caramel with dark red accents. A somewhat disappointing small head which faded into a cap quickly, almost no lacing. The taste was low sweetness and Mouthfeel was very light. Pleasant experience overall and would recommend as a nice starter.

Photo of wrightst
3.75/5  rDev +18.3%

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.

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

Photo of tugdriver7
3.83/5  rDev +20.8%
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 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.

Photo of williamherbert
3.9/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A light cranberry red. Clear but for the fog on the glass. One half finger of foamy off-white head. Lots of bubbles. Diggin' the look.

Strong alcohol aroma, just this side of a barleywine. Some sweetish leathery malt notes. Hints of dark berry. A light barleywine smell.

The taste is strong and a bit puckery sour. Some leathery malt, almost like a porder in its darkness, but balanced by some dark berry. Hints of dark caramel. Strong malts. Hops are English and subdued.

The feel is thick, almost like a cream ale; full bodied. It's a drinkable "special ale." They call it an ESB but it's far stronger. Nice and substantial.

Photo of mschofield
3.9/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Listed as an amber/red ale here, but an ESB on the label. I'll review as an amber ale (brings the beer up in all ways).
Pours a clear copper with a two finger tan head, leaves rings of lacing behind, mapping out your drink.
Caramel and floral aroma, buttery and fruity.
Sweet, nicely bitter for an amber - quite mild, a little honey, the flavor is dominated by a caramel note.
The taste is full, but the body is medium.
Very easy to drink, but there is a bitter-honey note that could grow overpowering, otherwise this would be a good session beer.

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.

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