River Guide | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

very good
123 Reviews
River GuideRiver Guide

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Dark Wheat Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly River Ale

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-13-2002

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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 232
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to brothercannon for bring me a bottle of this, and a few other Berkshires, back from VT. Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into my nonic pint glass. The ale appears a clear deep copper color with about a finger of lingering tan colored foam. Nose and flavor are of sweet caramel malts, toffee, brown sugar notes, toasted, bready grains, and some earthy bitter hops. About a notch better than medium bodied with adequate carbonation. Worth a try if you are a fan of a strong ale.

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Photo of Citadel82
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brew poured from a brewery fresh 22 oz bomber.

A deep caramel brown color with a short lived white head that has nice retention and left fair lacing through out the brew. Head fades to a long lived ring at the edges. Fine carbonation.

The aroma of this brew seems to be sweet malt with highlights of alcohol and ripe fruit. Nice smelling brew.

The taste is carmel malts and fruity up front, Then sweet caramel malt notes that balance it out. Also has a bit of a alcohol and a hoppy dry finish.

Mouth feel is medium with a dryness that sticks to the back of the mouth and tongue.

Not a bad brew at all, though not as complex as their other offerings like the Coffee house porter, Rasberry Strong Ale and Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared with hobbie100. Thanks Richard!

A: Slightly hazy medium brown color with a little head that leaves no lacing.

S: Sweet spices, dark fruits, subtle malt.

T: Subtle dark fruits (mostly raisins and figs) with spices. The beer is decent tasting, but doesn't quite have the complexity or big flavors that would make it an awesome beer. While this is a decent brew, there are many beers out there that are better examples of beers that really shine with dark fruits/spices flavors.

M: Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with slightly low carbonation.

D: A good beer, but not one I would seek out.

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Photo of Naugros
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Murky, coppery brown with visible dregs on the bottom. Light tan head that really lasts and coats the side, promising lacing.

Fruity nose from the wheat yeast, something akin to plums with a touch of treacle in the back. Grassy aromas waft up as well.

Taste really follows the smell with the treacle turning more to molasses. Dark fruit (again, could be plum) with a slight wheat tang to it. A little bit of a red wine sense in the aftertaste.

If you're looking for a light, bright wheat beer for a summer day, this is not it. This is right in the medium level for body and is a little sticky on the tongue.

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Photo of DrJay
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly clear, dark amber brown, kind of like iced tea. A fine beige collar formed after the pour and there was some spotty lace. Bready and biscuity malt and caramel aromas, a bit fruity. Moderate bitterness with a bit of fruit up front. Caramel sweetness and toasted malt. Medium/low carbonation, medium plus bodied, a bit creamy and fairly smooth. Quite drinkable and pretty tasty.

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Photo of bigone4
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love this brew around striper season on the Ct River. Mixes great for a Guiness Black and Tan. I landed a nice 33" Striper weighting in at 16lbs this season. It pours a dark cloudy red amberish hue, Thick and meaty brew. Strong malt flavor with a great sweetness. Brown sugar with some molasses smoky mapelish flavor. Has a nice hop mix in there with the malt trails. Mouth feel is very thick and full, big chewy full malty robust feel to it. Nice offering of a strong ale. I never try to let a brew so true to style get by my taste buds and this one says alot. This is a great beer! I enjoyed the other reviews and I have to say BBC makes great brews and the River Ale is one of them. Get some and keep it for a rainy day. True to style and great taste, Way to brew a winner in my book.

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Photo of KajII
3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[Best served in a Dimpled mug]

Poured a cloudy medium brown with a large frothy off white head that was mostly diminishing and had excellent lacing.The aroma was heavy of roasted caramel malts, molasses with nice hints of an earthy yeast, toffee and raisons. It tasted sweetly smooth and mildly acidic in the beginning then progressed to a nice sweet malty flavor and had notes of caramel and dried fruit with the flavor lasting a nice while. Mouthfeel was medium in body and nice and creamy in texture with a nice mild carbonation. Overall a fantastic tasting Dark Wheat Ale, very drinkable.

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Photo of Hagbard
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BBC's River Ale is a strong robust beer that pours a hazy dark brown capped with a fairly thick white head. It is murky, like a river that's running low. It smells a bit like mollases with a distinct alcoholic twinge. There is a nice malty base supporting everything. The taste is interesting and complex. Loaded with brown sugar, molasses, alcohol, and finishing with a hoppy bitterness. Throughout, there is huge malty base that imparts a nice sweetness that never becomes cloying. It's a great tasting beer, the only fault is that the alcohol is too hot and harsh, especially for only 7%. The mouthfeel is nice and chewy and seems appropriately full. The drinkability is good. This is a nice beer to be sure, one that I'll definitely be revisiting.

I have 2 complaints about the packaging of this beer. First, the best buy before date was not notched. At 7% and bottle-conditioned, this probably isn't much of an issue. Still, it's frustrating to see the dates, but not a notch. Secondly, the label makes no mention of the strength or style of the beer. The picture of 2 guys rafting on a river made me buy it thinking it was a light, refreshing, maybe hoppy brew. I was a little disappointed when I opened it to find a 7% strong ale and not the refreshing brew I was expecting. This didn't affect my review of the beer itself, but I thought it was something I should mention.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My buddy (Naugros on the website) brought a bottle back from his trip and shared it with me to knock this style off my list. After this review I only have two left (happoshu and kvass).

I drank this beer in a wheat glass. It was deep brown with about two fingers of head that retained really well. It left some decent lacing on the glass. You can see a lot of particulates in the lower third of the glass.

In the nose I get sour, some malt, and a venous presence. The flavor is consistent with the smell. I get a little bit more malt than in the nose. I also pick up more of the sour.

This beer is a little heavy for summer. I would recommend it for the cooler months.

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Photo of mnrider
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brown Bomber--->Pint Glass. No Freshness Date

A: Pours a brownish color with a red hue. Small off white head, with some lacing.

S: Sweet creamy malts with a slight alcohol kick. Mostly malts.

T/M: Medium bodied and smooth. Malts are sweet and have hints of caramel and toasted goodness. The higher alcohol aroma is prevalent right off the bat. A taste of wheat and a light hop bitterness is also mixed in.

O: If malty brews with a kick of wheat is what you like than this one is for you. The malts taste great, however I would have liked a little more hop balance to even it out.


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Photo of ybnorml
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clean light brown beer with amber highlights. Has a big beige head, mabye a little lace. The aroma is full of malt and a nut like sweetness. That nutty malt sweetness is carried through in the flavor with a light smooth hop finish to balance off the taste. Note: inexplicably this is my favorite Bershire brew. I just enjoy drinking it everytime I put it into a glass.

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Photo of JasonA
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I gave this Strong Ale a solid 4 due to its impressive cloudy (almost unfiltered) appearance. Solid brown, little head, some lacing.

Smells malts, some ABV. Im looking forward to this. Maybe some citrus, and bread.

Yummy. Malty, but not too malty. Smooth, yet some ABV to spice it up. Not a full bodied ale, but overall a solid choice.

Sits well. Nothing impressive. Down good. The ABV is not overpowering at all.

Overall a wonderfull, yet not overly impressive beer selection. Im happy to have this local fresh selection. I will definately have this beer again.

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 22oz bottle into a snifter glass, comes out brown with some ruby highlights, nice head leaves some lacing. Sweeter aroma, malts take front and center, some fruit here. Taste starts bready, bit of wheat tang, middle is sweet with some stone fruit. Finishes dry, slightly bitter, clean. Medium body, easy to drink the whole bottle but overall not what I was expecting. Was looking for those willamette hops but found none.

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Photo of shredsofautumn
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle purchased on 10/30/2010. I figure it's an appropriate Halloween beer due to the fact that It's entitled the "River Ale". Berkshire Brewing, based in South Deerfield, is within close proximity to the Deerfield & Mill Rivers. Crossing one of these two, I cannot remember which, is the Eunice Williams Bridge in Greenfield where numerous tragic events occured, leading to the covered bridge being one of the most haunted places in Massachusetts.

Appearance- Murky dark brown with straw hues. Not much of a head on this one, but the lacing is nice.

Smell- Earthy. Slight soil notes, huge butterscotch malts hit you in the face, very slight hopped finish.

Taste- Crisp initially. Leads into a strong lip smacking hopfest and finishing with a strong sweetness of malts and sugar. After swallowing, the heat from the alcohol warms well in this cool weather. Doesn't taste like any wheat beer I've ever had.

Mouthfeel- Thick. Full. Creamy finish.

Drinkability- Good. Tasteful, thick, quality flavors. I like it.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: crystal clear; deep amber in color; 1 finger moussy off white head that receded to a splotchy cap very nice lacing;

S: all malt - caramel, fresh wort, a little smoke, a little nutty;

T: all malt to the middle - caramel, nutty, a little dark fruit; mild bitterness with a sense of raw spice on the finish;

M: medium bodied; moderate creamy carbonation; moderately dry finish;

O: I don't like the raw spice note that I got at the finish;

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Photo of auxiliary
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - Dark amber color with a off-white head and some lace.

smell - Nice malt taste here with some caramel taste.

taste - Lots of malt here with some hops present.

mouthfeel - Medium body.

drinkability - Real nice taste, recommend this beer. Big on malt and taste here.

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Photo of jlindros
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Super fizzy 1 finger head fades quickly, over a hazy dark molasses auburn rosy red color w/ a billion bubbles floating up.

N: Toasty malts w/ caramel, a little syrup, malty sweetness, slight roastiness, and a slight sour tanginess that is a little odd

T: Lots of malts, a decent sweetness too, with more syrupy molasses, brown sugar, little caramel... with all that is a sour flavor, like it was a soured mash or slightly infected beer that hasn't really taken control yet. Aside from that is more toasted malts, some roast, little wheaty and reminiscent of a bock.

M: Lighter but syrupy, and tons of carbonation.

F: Still semi sweet, more syrupy malt with some sour lingering malt flavor, more like a soured malt than an infection, but its def. there. Little toasty and a hint of spiciness, with a touch of bitterness round off the finish.

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Photo of edmundfitzoil
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Berkshire Brewing Company's River Ale, thanks to BA goodbyeohio, poured from a 22 oz. brown glass bottle with freshness or best by date anywhere on the label or body and poured into a standard pint glass.

The beer poured an amber with gold edges and a finger and a half of briliant white head of heavy bubbled white head that retained fairly well and left thin white bubbles. The nose was surprisingly vanilla and oaky with a hoppy spice in the background. River Ale tasted mellow and warming with a malt presence that reminded me of a decent barley wine and a slight, almost unpresent, hop presence. No alcohol taste anywhere in the drinking. This a drinkable, but undistinguished - I was expectin more hops, for I believe Arrogant or Double Bastard to be the standards of the style, but a still very, very drinkable beer.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and best-by 4/8/08; brewed with a portion of wheat malt and sampled a month ago. It pours a deep crimson, with medium carbonation and two inches of tight, light tan head that recedes to a clingy collar. A bit of a wheat twang in the nose, along with grassy malts, caramel, molasses and some earthy, leafy/green hops. Very malty body, with flavors of caramel and earthy/grassy malts, hints of chocolate and toffee, tart wheat and a mild, clean bitterness. It has a medium, lightly-carbonated body that delivers a staying maltiness while becoming ever crisper and dryer. An interesting brew that is hard to define - wouldn't really peg it as a strong ale, but not really sure what else to call it. While not my favorite from BBC, it is fairly tasty and quite drinkable for a beer with an above-average ABV.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour resulted in a finger's worth of ecru head with good retention. The color was a cloudy golden amber. The nose was mildly sweet, sort of like butterscotch, but not in a bad way. The mouthfeel was medium with a solid caramel taste on the tongue. The finish was lingeringly caramel-like. It really masked its alcohol well, but the sweetness was a bit overpowering for a hophead such as myself.

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Photo of jamescain
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tasting glass, thanks texasclimber for sharing this one

Appearance: Light brown with a white head about 2 centimeters thick that faded into a thin lacing on the top of the beer.

Aroma: Slightly hoppy, pine and citrus, with sweet toffee malt coming though.

Taste: Slight bitterness but mostly malty. A little sweet for my taste, but balanced with a nice addition of hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation and a light to medium body, easy to drink, with a lingering bitterness.

Overall: I thought it was good, having not knowing anything about this beer before I drank it, I enjoyed it.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a pint glass. Berkshire beers are always a treat.

Pours dark amber, translucent, good thick creamy foam. Light malty smell, minimal at best. Bready. Taste is nutty (quite) with some underlying dark fruit sweetness. Hints of spices. Strong malt profile. Cinammon notes. Smooth flavor, balanced hop.

Good drinker, really flavorful. Add to the list of wins for BBC.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to goodbyeohio for this brew.

Pours a brownish color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy off-white head, some nice sticky lacing follows. The nose is sweet, malty, with a lot of caramel. The taste is sweet/malty, and some caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a nice tasty ASA, but it just does not have the kick of other ASAs. Recommended though.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.84/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking a cold 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
the beer pours a chestnut and copper hue with some small flakes of precipitate. the beer is also with a soft fluffy beige head of 2 cm foaming up with some larger bubbles in the center of the foam.
Aroma is sweet malt with some brown sugar and caramel, I also get a bit of spicy character, which was unanticipated, but pleasant. Wheat twanginess comes through on the nose as well.
First sip reveals an average body with fine and very tingly carbonation. texture is smooth and easy drinking making for an enjoyable physical experience.
Flavor is some sweet fruity malt with a little red grape and some caramel mixed with wheat twang again as on the nose. Finish brings back the small amount of cinnamon that was on the nose. It is an enjoyable beer and I dont get any hop character nor any real booziness.
The beer is not overly complex, but is certainly not flawed and makes for an enjoyable evening.

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Photo of micahgoldfus
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

The pour looks good: a copper-brown color with a nice, frothy lace that leaves a mark on the glass with every sip. The smell was of sweet malts, a little bit of hops, and a little sting of alcohol. The taste is not too far off from that. It's dominated by sweet malts right up fronts: caramel, toffee, and bready and toasted notes. Still, the flavor ends up with a double-bite along with the sweetness: a little bit of alcohol and a mild touch of hops. Unfortunately, the combination of flavors (especially the sweetness), combined with a somewhat thick mouthfeel, gives a slightly syrupy feel to the beer. However, the high level of carbonation saves the beer. Overall, it's an enjoyable beer to drink, with plenty of flavor.

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River Guide from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
3.93 out of 5 based on 232 ratings.
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