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: 233
Photo of NEhophead
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 pt 6 fl oz brown bottle.
No best before date notched.

Pours a murky maple in color. Half-inch, creamy off-white head that lasts as a whispy sheet with pools of bubbles. Thin and spotted lacing with a decent hold.

Sweet caramel and toffee malts; hints of fruity esters: apple, lemon, and plum. Caramelized brown sugar.

Semi-sweet toasted malt character; big wheat and grain presence that is rather clean. A background of fresh fruit: apple, grape, cherry, plum; all of which aren't tart at all. Hints of alcohol lead to the aftertaste of semi-sweet brown sugar, fruit, and wheat.

Almost full in body; smooth, near creamy on the palate. A nice balance of malt and hops.

A pleasasnt offering with nice qualities, but rather reserved in terms of flavor and abv %, when I think of a 'Strong Ale'.

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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 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 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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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 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 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 Hibernator
4.4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Berkshire Brewing Company River Ale
22 oz brown bottle
The freshness date is not notched on the side label
Served in a 20 oz tulip pint glass

Pours a hazy and murky brown with orange highlights on the bottom of the glass. Decent head on top, but the sticky, webbed lacings are worth noting.

Pleasant aroma of caramel malts and fruity pear notes. Mild hop whiffs with a touch of butter cream.

This is a very tasty brew and better than one might expect. Sweet brown sugar, caramel malts and toasted grain flavor. Slight orange fruitiness on the finish. The mouthfeel is incredibly soft and round. The drinkability level is exceptional. Nicely balanced and the carbonation level is modest. This beer goes down so easy and it's very deceiving at 7.0%. I have yet to be let down by a BBC product.

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Photo of smcolw
3.35/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber and very cloudy; decent tight-bubbled head (long lasting). A touch of lace on the glass.

Dark burnt-sugar malty aromas; light hop, like a spice. Some yeasty smells as well. Inviting.

Simply put, this reminds me of a really good homebrew--complete with the yeasty flavors and sweet malts. There is very little bittering hop and the aftertaste is largely sweetness. Nice body. This seems to be a hybrid of Scotch and Brown Ales. Worthy of a tasting.

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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 FLAbeergutinMASS
3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased a keg for a wedding party at a "packy" across the street from the brewery. The beer was FRESH, almost a little too fresh. Heavy caramel flavor, almost sickly/syrup(y).

Being that it was a cool Cape Cod late summer evening, the beer went nicley with the weather-many of the party goers really enjoyed it. This is a great sipping beer, it is very strong, and very sweet. A great New England Ale.

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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 aquatonex
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown-red with a small lacey, creamy head. Very nice color. Smells a bit of acrid alcohol with powerful fruit tones. I couldn't quite place what kind of fruit. Perhaps berries and maybe a little peach? It wasn't so clear cut, must have been some mix. Taste was dominated by the odd fruit mix, I would have liked a more distinct flavor that I could pinpoint, though it was good. Also, it had a creamy bready flavor. #9 is better though. Mouthfeel was very smooth. Didn't have too much of an aftertaste either.

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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 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 Stimack
3.52/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brew poured from a 22 oz (normal presentation from BBC) bomber to a deep brown color with a smallish head that has nice retention and left fair lacing through out the brew. The aroma of this brew seems to be sweet with highlights of alcohol and fruit. Nice smelling brew and it smells like it would be at 7%! The taste is very sweet and fruity up front, maybe a little too much? The middle has a bread/malt flavor that tries to balance it out. Also has a bit of a alcohol on the very end of the experience. Not a bad brew but once again it does not seem to be as rounded as their other offerings like the Coffee house, Imperial Stout or the Lost Sailor. (If you read my reviews you would see I really liked them!)

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Photo of mikeys01
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The River Ale was definitely a sleeper...it had been hiding in my beer closet lurking for a while, I wasn't quite sure what to expect of it, but it proved to be an excellent offering from BBC..now I must search for more. Pours out a brownish amber color, just a bit of off white head, fairly hazy. Aroma is fairly unassuming while cold, but blossoms into a medley of sweet malt and orchard peaches, pears. Taste is sweet and very fruity tart, surprisingly so, and quite delicious. Excellent balance between the fruity esters and good bready and caramely malt flavors. Undertones of vanilla and a little bit of nuttiness. Finish is a bit spicy and warming as the alcohol becomes apparent. Body is rather full and mouthfeel is quite smooth, very drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of Hhawk06
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Rarely disappointed by a Berkshire selection, this brew did not either. Slightly amberish in color, but definitely a brown hue emerges when held to the light. Alas, not much head but the smell is great. Like a mix between coffee and a chocolate bar. It has a pale malty flavor with chocolate notes. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer, didn't even know what style it was going in. It finishes creamy and quenching. Perfect!

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Photo of beernut7
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have rarely been disappointed by a Berkshire brew and this ale is definitely not a downfall. Deep nut-brown pour with and impressive creamy head wafting the aromas of peach fruit and caramel malt. The smooth body supports the presence of an extremely well-balanced caramel malt and a mild rounded British hop spice. The smoothness of the entire brew gives a 22 oz. bomber the easy quick feel of a mere 12 ounces.

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Photo of Jason
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz brown bomber with a purchase before date on the side of the label.

Appearance: Amazing lace, the head may be small but good lace counts more in my book. Light haze from the yeast in the brown brick hue.

Smell: Sweet malt all over the place, buttery and a kiss of caramel in the nose. Very aromatic in the malt department.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth in a slightly viscous way due to the thick medium body. Touch of crispness opens the palate to the malt sweetness and there is a lot of it. From hits of toasted grain to layers of caramel and slight chocolate tones. Hops a meek yet through one punch of bitterness to try and waylay the sweetness. You can start to feel the alcohol about mid bottle and notice some mild esters throwing a dark fruitiness around.

Notes: A tasty malty treat, a bit strong but quite drinkable. If you like malty brews this is a must try. As for me I would not mind at all of always keeping a bottle of this around.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.62/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a good head that stays, some lace, slightly cloudy reddish amber color and a sweet maltly nose. Carbonation is very limited. Begins with good malt flavor and finishes smooth. Medium bodied - not dry. Decent ABV - 7% - but it isn't noticeable.

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Photo of paceyourself
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I thought this was going to be my weakest selection of my last beer haul but i was very wrong. Bershire surprised me again with this refreshing brew. This brown brew produced very little head and carbonation. The aroma was fruity with a little vanilla in the background. Mango and banana fruit flavors jump out at first then a coffee and sweet bread softly sneak in before the hops balance it out. I think River Ale would be very drinkable in the summer like other american wheat brews around here.

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Photo of BeerGlassesCollector
2.97/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Easy to drink any time with average taste and smell. I have to admit thought that look for an alternative if i was to enjoy a beer in a pub. If no other alternative, being a beer fan i would drink it and not complain about it

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River Guide from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
3.93 out of 5 based on 233 ratings.
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