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River Guide | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
88
very good
123 Reviews
River GuideRiver Guide
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
123
Ratings:
232
Avg:
3.93
pDev:
9.67%
 
 
Wants:
54
Gots:
13
For Trade:
0
View: Beers | Events
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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 232
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 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 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 ipogios
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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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 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 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 KelsoSaaz
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Weizen glass

A: Mud brown to dark translucent copper with a tan 2 finger head. Leaves all around lacing.

S: Sweet and bready malts; chocolate, caramel and nutty aromas.

T: Fantastic malt flavors: toasty grains, fresh bread, sweet malts. Hints of caramel and hints of chocolate. Very subtle hop presence that present earthy and ever so slightly bitter tones. Possibly some dark fruity tones in the finish.

M: Viscous body with mild carbonation.

A: Definitely a brew for a malt aficionado. River Ale is super tasty and fairly unique, certainly worth trying when you can find it. River Ale is a year-round brew for BBC, but I think it is an excellent beer for fall.

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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 travduke
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep amber in color. Two fingers of white fluffy head, great lacing down my chalice.

Aroma: Its hard to really finger anything here. Ethanol and fruits stand out the most.

Taste: The nose was misleading, this is very complex. Dark fruits, sweet caramel malt. Really interesting and tasty.

Feel/Drink: Great creamy, sweet mouthfeel. Medium bodied. Drinkability is nice, enjoy this over time.

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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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Photo of bbeerman
4.47/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A..Nice amber hue on the pour. Decent head.

S..Above average malt notes.

T..Malty. Syrupy caramel flavors. Slight chocolate, though faint. Almost a smoked flavor near the end (but only on some sips I found). Quite tasty.

M..Medium bodied despite the 7% ABV.

O..Very excellent beer overall. Really enjoyed this much more than I was expecting and look forward to getting another round of bombers in the near future.

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Photo of mcarroll10177
3.62/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a BBC pint glass

A- dark carmel brown, but with very little head just a hint of carbination

S- malts and some alcohol

T- very very sweet malts almost like a candy sweetness, which I did not really like. The alcohol was very well disguised.

M- thinner than I would have liked with very little carbination

D- this is a smooth easy drinker considering its 7% ABV, but the candy like sweetness was too much for me and it lacked the refreshment that I expect.

Overall a disappointment from my favorite brewery

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Photo of abgba121
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Light brown with about an inch of white head that recedes slowly and leaves a light lacing over the top of the entire brew.

S: wheat and sweet, reminds of toffee

T: A sweet beer, but well balanced with the hop additions, which leave a good crisp finish. Very tasty.

M: Medium body and good carbonation, easy to drink.

O: I was pleasantly surprised by this dark wheat, a great job by BBC and at a great price of 3.99 a bomber. I will surely have more of these.

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Photo of BeerMaverick
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this both on-tap at BBC and in bombers. Both were fantastic, but my review is based on the 22 ounce bottle.

A - Now I see what they mean by a "DARK wheat ale"...very dark indeed for a wheat beer. Similar in shade to a brown ale, but more greyish...I've never seen a beer this color before. I guess it resembles a scotch ale, but with less lively colors. Frothy inch-and-a-half darker head that complements the beer. Good level of lacing on the shaker pint glass...to be expected from BBC. Some sediment present obscuring the clarity which is typical for a wheat beer.

S - The bready/biscuity aromas of a wheat beer are present, but there is also a musty/rustic feel to the esters.

T - Fantastic and perfectly representative of the style with added unexpected kicks. Tastes like a wheat beer (the usual spicy/bitter flavor), but loads and loads of malt to sweeten things up. In terms of fruity notes, I'm getting grapes and raisins mainly. On the sweeter side I'm picking up brown sugar and caramel.

M - Provides the spicyness that wheat-beer-lovers crave. Medium to full-bodied beer that also satisfies the sweet tooth.

O - This is my favorite beer by BBC (the coffee house porter is a close second). The alcohol is detectable, but doesn't deter. I could easily down two of these bad boys in the springtime...and here I go!

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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 GWaters
4.77/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on Tap
Mohawk Park in Charlemont, MA

If you love sweet malty ales, this is a must! Truly Exceptional.

Pour: Pours the color of dark gingerbread with a slight head, but ample lacing. Sticks to the glass like a thin liqueur.

Smell: Sweet, sweet buttery malt with lower notes of caramel and moss. Heavenly, and very inviting.

Taste: A sweet roasted malt throughout. Smooth layers of caramel and cashew are mixed in. Hops punch through the buttery sweetness in spots. Darn near perfect for the style.

Mouthfeel: Opens with a soft coating of some sweet nectar to coat the mouth. Thins out quickly and rolls of the tongue seductively to leave a smooth happiness behind.

Drinkability: Rarely do I lose track of the number of beers I have in a pub, but I can't tell you how many I had one night. I can tell you this beer will let yo uknow the next day. It is a very easy to drink beer, and will invite you to another everytime.

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Photo of Macdoyal
3.6/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Alrighty here we go.

Appearance: A dense white head that goes fast and leaves excellent lacing on the glass. The color is that of a copper or leather.

Smell: Sweet smell of malt and almost caramel with a sharp hops bite at the end.

Taste: Bold taste of malt with a roasted note that is a little bitter. The hops add another layer of bite thou not a lot. Overall it's nice but it's that roasted note i can do with out.

Mouthfeel: Not a lot of carbonationwhich works well. It's got a thicker mouthfeel the best of which i can explain as saying Velvety.

Drinkability: It's good stuff and i could drink a couple of these but there are other beers by these guys i prefer.

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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 LessThanHKY10
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first beer review here on BA...so here goes:

A - Pours a deep and dark, but clear amber color. Decent sized off white head quickly recedes to a well defined collar. Good amount of lacing down the side of the glass.

S - An assault of malt on the nose with hints of fruit, caramel, and a little alcohol.

T - Similar to the aromatic characteristics...roasted malty taste overall with bits of sweet caramel and alcohol towards the end. Really is a delicious brew and I can definitely understand its label of an American Strong Ale.

M - Medium mouthfeel with smooth and light carbonation.

D - Smoothness of this brew gives it decent drinkability for the style.

Overall a good brew, and one of my favorites from BBC - will buy again.

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Photo of SeussMD
4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

i have liked just about everything BBC has put out. And my brother-in-law spoke highly of this beer. So it already had quite a bit going for it. But you can't write about beer you never drank. Let's open this 22 oz. bomber and address that problem.

Poured into: A Yuengling pint glass. Whatever you might think of the beer, Yuengling's label KICKS ASS. Classy script lettering and a BAMF bald eagle (really, is there any other kind?) with a barrel of beer. Timeless.

Appearance: good 1 1/2-inch head receedes to about a half inch. A lovely golden brown, the color of the crust of a freshly-baked loaf of bread, with a yellowish-creamy offwhite head. Very interesting.

Smell: Wheat. Surprise! And honey and caramel.

Taste: Lovely malt sweetness. Wheat bread, and a slight hint of the Willamette hops. A little touch of biscuit. And yet with a crisp finish. Quite tasty. I don't recall any other beer this sweet tasting this good.

Mouthfeel: fairly well carbonated, nice dryness, both of which offset the sweet malted character.

Overall: It's like drinking a loaf of delicious home-baked bread. And who doesn't love home-baked bread? OK, except for people with gluten issues, who doesn't love home-baked bread? Another winner for the folks at BBC. Big ups to Western Mass!

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Photo of 2014LM2X1
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

Berkshire Brewing was the first craft brewer that I fell in love with. I started out on Steel Rail and went through all of their flavors, including River Ale, in quick succession. That was three years ago; since then, I have been branching out to a number of different breweries.

I revisited Berkshire's Coffeehouse Porter recently, and it was slightly disappointing. Fortunately, I can't say the same for River Ale. I am glad I picked up a bomber on my way home.

The best way I can describe River Ale is this: try it alongside Trappistes Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus 12, and Westy 12. Other than the higher alcohol burn of the latter three, I find the tastes are very similar. I actually don't favor Belgian ales, so I prefer River Ale to the big-name Belgian quads. River Ale doesn't focus on the yeast flavors like the Trappist quads; instead, its more balanced nature allows the sweetness of the malts to shine through.

For $5.00 per bomber, I'd say this is the best value that Berkshire offers. I would highly recommend trying it. And, just for kicks, I would also recommend a blind taste test against some of the more famous Trappist ales - the results might be surprising!

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Photo of Dopplebock
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I feel that this is a very under-rated beer from the BBC. Brownish-Amber in color with minimal lacing. Like most strong ales, the alcohol is very apparent in this beer. The sweet, toasted malt character of the beer is enhanced by hidden flavors of dark fruit. One can draw similarities between this style and the belgian strong ales. I believe that the American Strong Ale is a slightly subdued version. For beer drinkers that want a local favorite, give River Ale a try! Behind the coffee house porter, this is probably my favorite offering by the Berkshire Brewing Company.

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River Guide from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
88 out of 100 based on 123 ratings.
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