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River Horse Special Ale - River Horse Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
River Horse Special AleRiver Horse Special Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

40 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 40
Hads: 193
Avg: 3.57
pDev: 27.45%
Wants: 1
Gots: 36 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
River Horse Brewing Co. visit their website
New Jersey, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rfgetz on 09-22-2010

A variety of specialty malts are the backbone of this American Amber Ale; a perfect session beer.
View: Beers (30) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 40 | Hads: 193
Photo of Huffs
4.37/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured to a nice, dense biscuit colored head which laced well and lasted. Appearance was a hazy with a reddish / amber color. Aroma was grainy with hints of malt, fruit and grass. Taste was of a strong malt and caramel front and finishing with a hoppy bitterness, kind of a grain finish. Mouthfeel was medium and carbonated. Aftertaste was dry and bitter. I liked this beer a lot, one of the best amber lagers I've had.

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Photo of mbender92
4.26/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Tastes better than any macro-brew or micro-brew that I've had so far in my opinion. It's a delicious beer, especially considering the fact that it's brewed in New Jersey. It comes in a glass bottle with a pretty typical micro-brew label stating that it's an american amber. At 5.5% abv (incorrectly stated in the beeradvocate description) this beer could pass as tasting like a 4.2 - yet still comes with the kick of a 5.5% beverage.

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Photo of snegopady
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I'm not going to claim that the Special Ale is world-class or anything silly like that. But what other reviewers see as a defect, I see as this beer's best feature. Sometimes--often--daily--I crave a malty beer that isn't hopped to the gills. And that's what this beer is all about--loads and loads of tasty, tasty malt. Not for everyone, apparently, but if you're a weirdo like me who likes his malt and wants it now, you could do whole a lot worse.

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Photo of Amalak
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had off the tap at Wicked Monks in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Nice deep red/brown color. Thick foamy, off-white head which leaves a good deal of lacing. Very slight malty scent.

This has a very pleasant nutty taste. A slight bit of chocolate. Some bitter hops, but slight. There's a soapy aftertaste in there. A slight sweetness. It's a dry taste, almost like a cask.

Nicely complex with nothing overbearing.

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Photo of forcedlaughter
4.05/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color. Small head sticks around and has a creamy texture.

I get caramel, and a sweetness like apple juice on the nose.

The taste follows. A really easy to drink, nice tasting, sweet beer. I get the malt up front, followed by apple juice and brown sugar.

Mouthfeel is nice. It coats my mouth and doesn't have any off flavors so the drinkability is high as well. For 4.5%, I could easily drink a few, and I would not get tired of the taste.

There are far better ambers out there, but this is a great value around me.

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Photo of Sharkophile
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a River Horse variety pack, which I was very happy with.

A: Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark red with a very large off white head with good retention.

S: Smells sweet, with caramel, brown sugar and roasted malts with a bit of hoppiness.

T: Caramel and brown sugar with some roasted coffee-like flavors as well. Light and clean hoppiness leads into a pretty dry finish.

M: Pretty light bodied and highly carbonated. Prickly. Nice.

O: A very good, flavorful and balanced amber ale, I wish I could find it in six packs, I could have a bunch of these at a time.

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Photo of woodychandler
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My thanks to tone 77 for coming by with a buncha bottles for me to try. It is nice to have someone local with whom to trade.

From the bottle: "Many of us here in the U.S. of A. consider ourselves to be "Special". We think this American Amber is pretty Special as well. Hope you enjoy it!"

I enjoyed pouring it into my glass and watching a dense finger of light-tan head being produced and experiencing decent retention at the outset of yet another sweltering afternoon. I also enjoyed gazing at its reddish-amber color with NE-quality clarity. I further enjoyed the pleasant admixture of grass hops and caramel malts on the nose. I gained enjoyment from its medium-to-full mouthfeel (not quite creamy, but close) and its taste with a seeming emphasis on hops. Finally, I enjoyed the extreme finish, which is when the malt really came into play. I had not tasted it much until then, but it lingered well after the swallow. Overall, an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into my New England Brewing Co. tulip.

River Horse's Amber Ale pours a dark mahogany, more brown ale like in color. Some amber highlights are appreciable though. Just over two fingers of very light tan colored foam fill the glass, threatening to spill out. Head retention is above average, and rings of lacing are left encircling the glass. The nose has a good bit of biscuit to it, joined by a little caramel. There's a definite herbal and floral hop aroma as well. The flavor follows that same blueprint pretty faithfully. Lots of biscuity malts upfront, joined by just a little bit of caramel sweetness. The bitterness that follows is noticeable, but not abrasive. The hop character in the finish is decidedly English, very earthy and herbal. The body is firm, but not overbearing. The carbonation though is a bit dull, making the mouthfeel come across as a little flat. River Horse Amber Ale is a pretty good beer, maybe my favorite so far that I've had from them.

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Photo of TheBigBoy
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Solid Brew...Have had several River Horse's over the years with mixed results. By far this is the best beer that I've had from this brewery.

Good Amber/Red beer flavor that's slightly crafty but not overpowering at all. COuld not drink these all night but definitley 2-3 not a problem.

Do give this one a try, if tasty amber/red beers are your thing. You will be happy with this one.

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Photo of ARoman
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 1.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a shaker. The aroma is distinctly raisin cinnamon bread with a toffee undertone and peanut butter coming in late. It's a murky, unfiltered raisin brown color with a khaki head that has okay retain and only a light lace. It's a medium high sweet and light bitter blend. The texture is a a light syrup with a fuzzy carbonation and medium full body. Roasted flavors are picked up with tones of toffee, toasted bread, grains, and nuts. The finish is roasty and grainy with a driness and a light astringent quality. The aftertaste is grains, and lightly toffee.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into fluted pint glass, nice tan head, pretty thick at first, dissipates to nice froth on the top, a little clinging. Color is a dark, deep amber, somewhat dense.

Smell is mild, sweet malt comes through hints at some moderate bitterness.

Taste is a nice mix of roasted and caramel malts, with a very nice citrus/pine bitterness that cleans it up.

Mouthfeel is mostly on the tongue, flavors cling to the top but sweet and bitter balance well with mild carbonation.

Overall, a very nicely done brew, solid malt flavors and hop bitterness.

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Photo of taigor
3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into mug glass.

A - Poured slightly hazy amber red color with light head that dissipated very quickly leaving almost no lacing at all.

S - Strong smell of malts and caramel with citrus hints.

T - Very sweet to start, malts and caramel with brown sugar followed by slight hoppy bitterness and a dry finish.

M - Light bodied with medium carbonation.

D - Very simple and enjoyable red ale. Would recommend it but dont go out of the way to get it.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with minimal cap of white head. Scent is of weak carmel malts with a decent fresh pine and citrus hop note. Taste is a little better than scent dictates, decent light carmel matls combine with piney and citrus hops to form a decent, uncomplicated beer. Lighter side of medium bodied, moderately high carbonation. A decent beer, unspectacular yet drinkable.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.79/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

River Horse variety pack. Twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours medium dark brown, some red hints. Some white foam. Strong caramel smell. Toffee. Taste is alight sweet caramel with a modest bite. Hints of butterscotch. Light mouthfeel from the modest carbonation. Good amber.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
3.71/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Pours deep cloudy amber, medium foamy head with good retention, lace. Sweet malty aroma with a tad of cinnamon spice. Tastes of sweet caramel malt with mild bitterness and spice on the end. Medium soft mouthfeel. Overall tasty amber ale, mostly on the sweet side.

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Photo of tone77
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty dark amber color with a small head. Smell is of malts, some hops. Taste is the same, some malts up front with hops kicking in at the end, a touch of caramel is present. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall makes for a solid offering.

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Photo of metter98
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is slightly hazy and a dark shade of amber in color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige colored head that has very good retention properties and left a short head covering the surface and lots of lacy rings of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of toasted malts and earthy yeast are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of caramel and toasted malts along with earthy yeast. A light amount of bitterness is present. The earthiness lingers through the finish.
M: It feels a bit shy of being medium-bodied on the palate with a little smoothness and a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I liked the malty nature of this beer because there were just enough hops to help balance this off and keep things drinkable. It's pretty tasty for a beer with a low abv.

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Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as part of a mix/match 6pk from The Beer Store in Southampton, PA. Price averaged out to $2.50/bottle.

Enjoyed in a DFH Signature Glass.

A - Pours a rather dark amber color with a one finger head that dissipates rather quickly. A very slight amount of lacing is left after drinking.

S - A very light sweet smell (malts). No hop smell at all. Not an overwhelming impression can be drawn from the aroma.

T - A very malty, slightly tangy taste. The presence of hops is no where to be found. Not a bad taste at all.

M - More on the thin, watery side. As mentioned, a tangy after taste lingers after drinking.

D - Not a bad beer. For an ale, I actually like it. You could easily drink a few of these since it is not a very heavy beer.

Overall: A decent beer that was worth a try. Would I purchase again? Probably not since I'm more of a hop head. Would I have a problem drinking it again? Not at all...it'is a nice departure from my normal beers. Give it a try.


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Photo of jman42
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A = Very nice looking red color with a nice light brown head. Lacing was pretty apparent

S = Nice malt aroma, barely noticeable hops

T = Nice malty taste. Again, hops were not overly apparent. Bit of a bitter after taste

M = Average

D = A nice red ale (unless you're looking for a hoppy one). Seems to look better than it drinks though. Still, I'd recommend to friends who aren't hopheads.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.67/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is the last bottle I picked up as part of a sampler pack from the brewery in Lambertville -poured from the chilled 12oz into a double walled tumber.

The amber has good deep ruby color which borders on bronze with a translucent clarity and 3 fingers of rocky ecru which settle to a 1/4 inch. The lace collection on the glass is good with a fine bead. The smell is good, which is a mix of hops that have a herbal and pine blend of scents and some light sweetness from the malt with a mellow ester of yeast fruitiness in the nose with a subtle toasted toffee-like aroma. The feel is very moderately bitter within style and standard carbonation with mild sweet entry and balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness is good with some subtle diacetyl and semi-dry finish with light cream and toasted accent.

This amber tastes malty up front with subtle toasted tinges and slight caramel notes which fade into a slight sweet relaxed taste and the hops come secondary with some light herbal/pine flavors which accent the yeast and malt well. The hops keep things balanced but don't move into the flavor realm much more than bitter with slight diacetyl in the background which is countered by slight pepper and mild fruit elements from the yeast. This is a good amber over all, not one I would revisit but nothing seriously flawed about it either. It might be good for a cookout to have on hand - a little on the sweet side as it finishes and could use a little more complexity in the malt and yeast but in general I liked it and it is better than average.

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Photo of jsanford
3.62/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extra received from THECPJ. Thanks! Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a slightly hazy amber with a thin white head that quickly recedes to a ring.
S - Strong caramel malt with a bit of pine and citrus.
T - More sweet caramel malt with a faint nuttiness. Earthy hops provide some balance, but the malt dominates.
M - Medium-light bodied with crisp carbonation.
D - Pretty quaffable. Tasty, if a bit bland.

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Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.6/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a medium dark and cloudy mahogany brown with lots of suspended particles and a 3/8 inch head that rapidly fades to a thin layer.
S - Slightly malty hints of caramel
T - A nice balance of bitterness fading to a sweet finish
M - Medium to full bodied
0 - That's Special .... although I can not tell if it's Dana Carvey's or George Carlin's voice that I hear this beer in.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a hazy copper/mahogany color with a two finger cream colored head. The head has a great level of retention, holding on for quite some time, fading slowly to leave a good level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma is mainly of a lightly roasted malt smell mixed with a decent showing of caramel and some toffee. Along with these aromas so too comes a tiny bit of dark fruit, which overall creates a rather sweet aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a lightly roasted malt flavor and some fruit flavors of apple. A caramel sweetness is present upfront as well, with it slowly fading throughout most of the taste. More toward the middle, with the caramel fading some, come some flavor of a more bitter hop nature. They are mainly of an earthy and herbal flavor and remain relatively light till the end. While the caramel faded steadily from the beginning it picks up again at the end, and when mixed with the rest of the flavors, it leaves a nice easy going taste of a bready caramel and light hop to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is average in terms of its creaminess and thickness with a carbonation level that is average as well.

Overall – A nice drinking brew, but overall nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy dark amber with one-finger, off-white, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Roasted malt and earthy hops. Mild.

T: Light to moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Roasted malt with a little bit of hops.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation.

O: The beer looks nice, but nothing stands out.

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Photo of JayQue
3.56/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fairly Average Amber Ale. Looks great and has a low abv. WOuld be a worthy session beer.

Pours a dark amber color with a huge antique white head. Excellent retention and thick lacing. Looks good.

Ok aroma....roasted and sweet malts. A little floral hops.

Mostly a malty beer but there is some balancing hoppiness and a floral aspect.A little on the sweet side but tastes ok.

A little light, but this is expected from a 4.5% beer.

This isn't one to savor, but a few pitchers t a session would be welcome.

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River Horse Special Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 40 ratings.