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River Guide | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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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 eberkman
3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep reddish brown with a thick white head that lasts a while before receding into a sheet. Leaves a decent amount of lacing. The nose is dominated by sweet, toasty, caramely malts and some alcohol. The taste is overwhelmingly sweet -- caramel, raisins, toffee, perhaps traces of chocolate and athe slightest hint of fruitiness before giving way to a hoppy twinge in the finish. This is a thick, syrupy, sticky brew with low carbonation. Drinkability is decent, but offset a little by the total richness and sweetness, which can become a little much after a while. No problem finishing a bomber, but definitely looking for something else next.

Overall a very good beer -- I'd be happy to have it again. I actually didn't know what style it was when I bought it and poured it -- actually until I came on here to punch in my comments. Seemed reminiscent of a Scottish Wee Heavy -- or possibly a pretty dark doppelbock -- to tell the truth.

Goes pretty badly with a spicy steak burrito (that was a mistake -- should have found out more about the beer ahead of time), but would certianly be nice to wind down with.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mahogany brew with nice off-white head. Bunch of rings, and some bubbles in the glass. When you top off, the viscosity shows. Cool.

Rich bruised fruit. Some cherry. Wood, Spice. Booze. Nice complexity.

Nothing over the top. Rich toasted malt with hints of brown sugar and alcohol soaked stone fruit. Light raisin and brown bread elements. The sweetness is offset by some light bitterness that comes and balances the sugar nicely. Some warming alcohol too.

Full bodied, in thee mouth and in the glass. Bubbles wiggle in the pint.

Great beer. Rich and enjoyable without so much alcohol that you notice (but it sneaks up on you too). You could do 2 bombers, but then, well, you'd be bombed. Not extreme, but well balanced. Good fresh beer.,

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Photo of steinlifter
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The River Ale is one in a series I've drank of this brew, all are very similar, and some are better than others, this is one! poured a rust color, and hazy, smelledhoppy, fruity and complex, tasted, big malt, fruit, mild hops, like most of their beers, not a lot of variation, but, I've never tasted a beer like this before(or since) mouthfeel is malty, creamy, med. carbonated and smooth, drinkability, good, but be carefull!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark amber-hued body with a big, vast, off-white head.

Smell: Moderately sweet-scented aroma of brown sugar, caramel, and toasted bread crusts, a small note of fruitiness, and the stingiest dash of dried bitter herbs.

Taste: Malty tastes of light-colored caramel and brown sugar with lesser, lighter touches of toasted wheat and cocoa powder. Slight touch of vaguely berry accented fruitiness. Very faint herbal hop traces with a low level of bitterness. Sweetish, nutty finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A simple, malty, sweet-leaning beer that goes down with ease. However, at 7%, you might not want to just plow through the bomber, though I couldn't help do so.

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Photo of rudzud
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at Julio's. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice deep crystal clear dark amber with a creamy almost two finger head that disappeared to leave a nice creamy halo and thin wisps.

S - Dark, almost chocolatey malts, some light wheat notes and gentle sweetness.

T - Pretty good flavors. Nice light dark fruits and carmel with some light chocolate and maybe even some coconut shell.

M - Good mouthfeel. Creamy yet sharp. A sipper though.

O - Overall I enjoyed this beer. Not sure if this is something I would like to drink more than one glass of though.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a superbly clear dark brown color. Head is fluffy and off-white. The head sits in stark contrast to the beer's body and it makes River Ale a beautiful brew. Great lacing too.

S-Smell is wheat and yeasty with notes of banana bread and brown sugar. Light spiciness too. Also there are toffee and butterscotch notes as well.

T-Creamed and bread with plenty of toasted wheat. Quite sweet. Caramel, molasses and toffee. Light tobacco. Finishes with a bubblegum flavor. Tastes a bit like toast with a light caramel glaze. A peppery spice sneaks up on you.

M-Very creamy. Light, tingling carbonation. Alcohol masked incredibly well. Somewhat full in body but it also seems light during some sips.

O/D-One of Berkshire's more unique brews. I think they craft cool beer at a good price and this is no different. Not my favorite in their lineup but I must say that there should be more Dark Wheat Ales out on the market because it is a neat style. Seek this out.

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Photo of tempest
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice beer. It reminds me of a weizenbock for the dark fruity notes. The aroma has more malt character with a gentle toast and milk chocolate. The flavor is slightly sweet and the body is a medium weight that rolls down smoothly. Over the cocoa runs figs and a creamy rum spices. While most American wheat beers turn out fairly boring, this is a tasty dark ale that belongs in the same realm as dubbels and weizenbocks.

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Photo of plaid75
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep copper hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was decent retention and good lacing.

The smell featured a solid cereal grain aroma with elements of sweet caramel.

The taste was also robust and sweet with cereal grains and caramel malt. Hints of dark fruits detected. Some earthy hops kept the sweetness in check.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness for the style, which is, of course, on the fuller side.

Overall a tasty and well balanced strong ale.

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Photo of jaxon53
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served this slightly chilled, in a pint glass, from a twenty-two ounce brown bottle. You really can't go wrong with a brew from Berkshire.

Appearance: River Ale pours out a deep, cloudy, brownish amber color that is quite dark. A somewhat vigorous pour yielded about a finger and a half of thick, creamy looking tan head. Head was made up of multisized bubbles. Head faded somewhat slowly, and left virtually no significant lace behind to speak of.

Smell: A malty monster. Thick toasted malt aromas, with maybe just a touch of hops buried beneath. A bit on the fruity side, most noticeably cherry, raisin, and plum. Notes of caramel and bread.

Taste: Loads of caramel. Plenty of dark fruit flavors. Quite malty. Touches of chocolate deep in the background. Finishes slightly bitter and dry. Pretty smooth overall. Not a real lot of noticeable alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Almost full bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Somewhat thick and coats the palate. Plenty of fizzy carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable and enjoyable thanks to the lower ABV.
Another tasty brew from Berkshire.

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Photo of currysage1
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a great chestnut brown with red tints from a 22 oz. bomber. Head had small tight bubbles, rising to a nice inch thickness. A little darker than cream, it quickly fell to a good coating that is to heavy to be called lacing. Head remained through most of the tasting. Good coating of sediment left in the bottom of the bottle. No brewed on or enjoy by date present.

Smell consisted of a slighly alcoholic, fully ripened banana, with some malt drizzled on top. (You know the ones that are really banged up and tasty)

Taste I have to say is overwhelmingly that of a banana mixed with cream and malt. Great malting, slight hop body. For me this is better because I prefer more malt and less hop. But for the sake of reviewing this impartially I would say just a bit more hop just for balance would be nice.

Mouthfeel is outstanding, nice and silky, one of the best beers I've had in this category. Hit me right in the middle of my tongue to start, then moved to the back and sides for the hops.

Drinkability wise I liked it very much, I'm not sure if I would want any more than this one, but I will definately be revisiting this one again.

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Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1342nd Review on BA
Bottle to Spiegelau Wheat glass

Thanks to BA RudZud for this one

App- Has a lot of color in the glass. A mix of browns and yellows and crimsons. A small cascading look to it with the falling colors. A very good two finger head with a small cling.

Smell- A good bit of wheat with a caramel candy note flavor. A bit sweet and malty. Like a smaller roggenbier. Nice small aromatics that blend nicely.

Taste- Flavorful little beer. A good sweetness meets a small wheat and fruit flavor but for 7% hits you on the finish. A nice bit of what seems like a rye/spice note. Seemingly prickly but not like A barrel aged prickly.

Mouth- A nice medium body with a creamy medium carbonation. Residual wheat and spice remain with a touch of malts and candy esque flavors.

Drink- A nice beer. Nice layers, good flavors and a unique style. Better than an average wheat. I wouldn't mind another bottle to sip on.

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Photo of Sam21
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into pint glass.Appearance - Pours deep amber with a creamy tan head. Doesn't retain as well as I thought it would. Leaves good lacing.

Smell - Malt driven. There is a sweet malty toffee-like character that is mixed with some sugary dark fruits. No noticeable hops.

Taste - The malty sweetness really controls this beer. There is a nice complexity here. Dark fruits, light bready malt, and subtle sweet (chocolate?) notes add depth. Picking up some nuttiness. Light spice in the finish, most likely coming from both the hops and wheat, lingers for a short while. I'm picking up a little alcohol tingle in the background.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with a thick consistency. Really creamy carbonation. Nice feel.

Drinkability - A malty treat that is very easy to drink. There is something unique about this beer that I am having trouble putting my finger on. Malty, warming, and lightly spicy. Comes across as a strong malty Brown ale with a little something extra. Another well-balanced and well-crafted beer from Berkshire Brewing Co.

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Photo of albern
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a treat and one of the better offerings from Berkshire. The beer pours a clear copper mahogany color with a small but creamy off white head, decent retention, some lacing too. The nose is big malt palate in the pale malt variety, a deep caramel aroma, and a sweetish slightly fruitishness. It is primarily a big pale malt nose though, not overly aromatic, but good.

The taste is a deep caramel flavor, with a big malt palate, some roasted notes, and a sweetish almost candied butterscotch flavor maybe a tad brown sugary. The beer is not much carbonated, medium bodied, quite smooth, a slight hop presence more towards the finish, and maybe some warming ABV in the finish as well. For a 7% beer, this hides and masks the alcohol extremely well. This is a solid, big malty beer and is a nice treat. L'Chaim.

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Photo of mschofield
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark leathery brown with orange highlights at the edges, topped with a four finger pillowy off-white head. Leaves thick puffy wide rings of lacing, comes close to a full sheet. This actually looks like some rivers around here.
Very malty aroma, lots of nuts, toffee, herbs and an earthy note.
Sweet tasting, nuts, fruits - strawberry?, dark bread, very small touch of butter.
Medium bodied, felt like a strong brown ale.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in my BBC pint. Poured the color of unpasteurized apple cider with a one inch dense, off-white cap that eventually dissipates into a consistent skim. Murky clarity with bands of thick lacing that were revealed after each quaff. Nose is caramel and pale malts, as well as some sugar and light fruity esters (perhaps pear). Taste follows nose as well as a bready character. Mouthfeel is light to medium and well-balanced with a nice amount of carbonation to round it all out. Some of the breadiness in the taste lingers at the finish. Easy drinking and flavorful brew. BBC doesn't make a bad beer in my opinion, and this is definitely one of my favorites.

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Photo of bobbypaulson
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle thanks for davey101!!!! The beer poured out of a bottle into a townhall cuved pint glass. Nice murky cloudy light redish brown color with a nice froathy white head. The head tapered off quick to a nice white top on the beer. smell is yeasty and sweet. taste is roasty and that same sweetness. This beer is a very nice starting beer, nice on the palate and very smooth. A very enjoyable beer to say the least. Thanks for sharing it Davey101 my buddy and I really enjoyed it!!!

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this beer from tzieser. Thanks Tom!

22oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - clear amber color with a cream colored head that left some thick lacing behind.

S - cocoa powder and roasted malt.

T - roasted malt and chocolate nibs, a little smokey towards the finish which is slightly dry and bittersweet.

F - medium bodied with good carbonation.

O - an all around good beer.

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Photo of ksimons
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-a cloudy brown amber with a finger's worth of white fluffy head

S-sweet malts, wheat, caramel

T-much like the nose, sweet malts, bready wheat, caramel, and something a little fruity

M-medium body, medium amount of carbonation, smooth

D-a nice mellow dark wheat beer, very easy to drink

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Photo of 3Vandoo
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep ruby robe, good foamy head, her smell is hoppy followed by malted flavours, very floral aromatized hops.

Her taste is hoppy at first, floral hops, followed by a malted finish and a spicy cherry whole.

Not a bad brew, but not typical of the style..

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Photo of Jesstyr
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this out at Ninety9 Bottles in Norwalk, and then bought a couple 22oz to run through at home. Good stuff, really stands up to any strong ale i've had.

Poured into a McChouffe chalice and builds a decent finger of head. Excellent lacing, definitely a strength. Pours a bright amber with significant cloudiness and sediment. Nose is sweet maltiness, with a little bit of brown sugar.

Taste is much like the nose - sweet and malty, but a little brown sugar and some chocolate. Very similar to a belgian dubble - probably closest to ommegang. Medium body, very smooth on the palate. Alcohol is well balanced in this drink, and its a great one to share and pair with a great meal.

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Photo of lpayette
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bomber

Appearance- pours a crystal clear dark copper on the first half of the pour. When I poured the rest into my 23oz pint class the yeast clouded it up big time. I was pleasantly surprised by the color- looked better without the yeast, but was interesting to see how much it changed.

Smell- Sweet, medium amber malt, some chocolate/dark malt, tart apples, fruity alcohol.

Taste and Mouthfeel- Tingly, slightly alcohol fruityness up front (banana), quickly followed by some smooth maltyness (that reminds me of an alt). A hint of apples is evident throughout.

I was taken by surprise by this beer. The label told me: "this is going to be boring." Just goes to show you to not judge a beer by its label. Had no clue that this was an american strong ale either as there is little information on the label. Adding the yeast into the beer mellowed it out quite a bit, as the banana flavors really come through and mask some of the fruity alcohol esters and reduce the corresponding tingling sensations.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a weizen glass.
7% ABV, Best by 07/12/11

[Review from notes taken on 06-13-11]

Thanks Thorpe!

A - Hazed through completely, the chocolaty brown beer has golden highlights and a plump tan head. Good retention but little lace is left adorning the glass.

S - Crisp wheat aroma that's soft but full. Chocolate notes immediately set this beer apart. Nice balance of earthy, mulch-like Willamet hops. Yeasty undertones carry through to a caramel malt finish.

T - Much maltier than I had anticipated, this is loaded with chocolate and caramel tones with overlapping yeast and soft wheat. Little balance comes from the earthy hop notes.

M - Medium-bodied and soft with a clean but estery, sweeter finish. Mild spice notes add depth to the feel.

O - A very nice wheat ale with good malt tones and mild hop balance. The yeast qualities add esters and phenols that work well with the brew as a whole.

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Photo of shaebs99
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another solid offering from BBC. I haven't had this in over a year now.

I wish I gave a more vigorous pour. I seem to remember a better head and head retention in the past. Decent lacing ( I poured my share second so I got the majority of the yeast sediment which settled fairly quickyl to the bottom)

Aroma is of sweet malts with a light fruitiness and something about it reminds me of higher ABV beers, but you dont really sense alcohol in nose.

Taste, not surprisingly, features sweet and toasted malts. Light caramel notes with a good balance. Maybe a hint of alcohol or it could be the aroma invoking memories of higher abv beers. There is a nice crisp carbonation about it. Not slick or oily, but a decent amount of carbonation to give it a fairly crisp mouthfeel, but I can imagine this gentle crispness disappearing if one were to drink it with a little age on it.

Overall another solid offering from Berkshire. I don't know if they make the best beer in MA, but they are my favorite brewery in MA.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a ruddy mahogany color with a fingers worth of head

S: Starts off with a good deal of wheat, spices, and fruit. The hops provide some light fruit and floral notes. Some nuttiness also comes through, mostly almonds that lend a sweet cherry note as well

T: Starts off with a nice fruitiness that combines with the nuttiness. Lightly spicy. Wheat comes through at the end. The nutty almond/cherry notes are the key point with the fruity hops nearly standing up to them

M: Light-medium bodied with a solid level of carbonation

O: A very solid dark wheat, with a good amount of fruitiness and flavor. Very easy to drink, and solidly refreshing. I can see why this is at the top of the style

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Photo of akahn
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a quarter-barrel for a little end-of-school-year celebration.

Pours a murky red-orange color with a lasting off-white head.

Sweet malt aroma, a hint of wheat, a hint of alcohol. Flavor is rich, sweet, definite fermented wheat notes. When it's a bit colder, a hop edge shows up at the finish. Sweet, but an interesting sweetness, fairly balanced.

Medium to full body. Mild carbonation. Very drinkable. This beer was a crowd-pleaser despite the strength of alcohol and full, tasty 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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