River Guide | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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

Muddy, reddish color. Not very carbonated. I noticed a caramel aroma the minute I poured this out. Quite malty smelling. Good solid malty flavor. Somewhat caramel flavor. Minor astringency in the backround knocks it down a peg. Bitterness upfront quickly fades. Decent body. A good enough beer. The astringency tends to overshadow it a bit for me. At 7% I dont think it is from the alcohol but maybe. Worth a try for sure.

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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 fitzy84
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber. The appearance is a dark brown-amber color with a thinned head and no real lacing. Aromas are thin but apparent with a slightly smoked malt aroma, sweet roasty caramel tones to it. Taste excels beyond what the aromas hinted at; strong sweetness of bready malts. Good mouthfeel helps smooth this drink out without hindering a solid carbonation. Overall, an excellent drink from BBC.

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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 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 williamherbert
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy deep orange color. Big puffy head. Minor spotty lace. Thin jetsam of carbonation.

The aroma is an inoffensive but weak ale smell. Ale yeast and malt, slightly pale. Some mild, almost pilsnery bitter hops.

The taste is almost like a lager: Crisp, bitterish light malt. Like a thick all-malt lager. Very nondescript but not bad.

The feel is thick and creamy...and very malty. A good, decent ale. Not a ton of flavor, but easy drinking.

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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 russpowell
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to ppotrias for this one!

Pours a semi-hazed orange/caramel with 3 fingers of cream colored head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Caramel & biscutty malt

T: Caramel, herbal & lemon hops, plus biscuitty malt up front. Nice fruittyness (plums, figs, cherries & other dark fruit) & intense cakeyness with Christmas pudding notes, plus toffee once warm. Finishes with some vanilla, some dryness, & loads more dark fruit & a touch of leafy hops

MF: Chewy with low, but useful carbonation. Superior balance. with a great malt backbone

Despite the heft, this dangerously drinkable. Don't cross the river if you cant swim the tide! Luckily I'm an alright swimmer, stellar strong ale!

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Photo of dbalsock
4.54/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

App: Pours a great dark amber hue with an off white head. There's good head retention, minimal lacing.

Smell: Cramel with bready notes. It's a very malty beer, but everything balances well with no harsh dark malts. There's a low hop aroma.

Taste: Molasses comes out on the tounge with a a subtle hop aftertaste that mixes with the essence of alcohol well. Other flavors are biscuit and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, sweet and medium bodied. The most important part is the crisp for me. Because it's a very malty beer, the crispness gives an incredible balance to it.

Drinkability: This is the best strong ale I've had yet, largely due to the lack of over powering bittering hops and dark malts.

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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 jbsteiny
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a cloudy reddish-brown with 1 cm of off-white thick head. Fair retention. Attractive.

Smelled of rich malts (caramel, chocolate), dried dark fruit (raisins, currants), and grain. I wrote that it was reminiscent of an Aventinus (which I'd had the night before). Tasted on the sweet side, but it's a strong ale -- it's allowed. Some herbal hops, but mostly fruit, malt, and grain flavors. Certainly warming alcohol presence. Somewhat dry finish keeps it from being cloying.

A very tasty beer from BBC for any malthead -- probably my new fav from one of my favorite New England breweries. I was actually surprised to read on the site that it's only 7% (they don't list the ABV on the bottle) -- from the taste, I thought it would be more. A delicious warmer to have on hand, especially in this season, but I prefer to split this bomber with a friend!

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Photo of Brad007
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown color with a very, very thin head if any. Aroma is nice and malty upfront. Taste is much of the same except there's a nice raisin/currant taste upfront. A second sip confirms a bold maltiness that dances on the tongue (fancy words but it's true). Aftertaste has a lot of raisin and malt and not a lot of bitterness to be found.

It's definitely strong but not in the sense that I expected. It reminds me of Arrogant Bastard but with the exception that there's a different character to it. The alcohol is never too overwhelming and allows the other flavors to come through.

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

Poured a hazy deep copper color with massive white foamy head. Good retention and perfect lacing.
Smell is a bit mild with some mild dark fruitiness present.
Taste is superb. There is a strong dark fruit malt presence. At the back end a mild bitterness does a perfect balancing act.
Finish is sweet and very refreshing.
What a surprise when I found out this beer was 7%. So easy to drink it is scary.

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

Served on tap at Bison County in Waltham in a pint tulip glass.

Appearance: aptly named River Ale. Slightly hazy, brown, indistinct foam on the top not really resembling a head of beer, negligible lacing.

Aroma: sweet and nutty, hint of toffee and spicy hops

Flavor: typical crystal malt, dull mouthfeel

Drinkability: didn't finish this one.

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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 brentk56
4.26/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a cloudy ice tea brown color and a loong-lasting head that provides decent lacing

Smell: Modest caramel and chocolate with a fruity peach element

Taste: Caramel and milk chocolate up front with fruity flavors arriving mid-palate; a really interesting finish with herbal bitterness, banana and chocolate

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with soft carbonation

Drinkability: Rich with deep fruity flavors and a complex finish - excellent

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

Pours relatively clear and dark brown, with a light head that leaves a ring of lace. The aroma is not terribly complex -- some nutty malts and spicy sweetness. It reminds me of a doppelbock, or maybe a weizenbock made with American yeast. On the palate, initial sweetness gives way to thick, molasses and savory spice flavors, with an increasingly nutty, very sweet finish. Mouthfeel is very thick and a bit viscous, with minimal carbonation. Overall, this beer is OK, but it doesn't have a hook -- there's no one thing that's special about this beer. Still, it's drinkable and tasty enough.

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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 TheManiacalOne
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish brown color with a short off-white head that fades at a decent rate and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is a well-blended combination of creamy chocolate, dark fruit, roasted malt and a good amount of hops.

T: The malty taste starts out with the same creamy chocolate flavor that you get in the smell, but it’s not overdone. Following up are light but complimentary flavors of dark fruit, some spice and a mild hops presence. The after-taste is slightly sweet. Despite being an ale, this one tastes a lot like a Dopplebock.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, slightly filling but there’s no trace of the 7.00% ABV. I had wanted to try this beer for a while and then had it at a tasting about a month ago. Even after the tasting, I wasn’t quite sure how much I would like it, but I gave BBC the benefit of the doubt because they haven’t steered me wrong yet. It was a wise decision, because I liked this beer a lot.

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Photo of jmz62565
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark mahogony with a medium head with no lacing. Not bad color,but the head is smallish and there's no lacing hurting the rating. The smell is abit weak with sweet malt and some "bisquity" aromas. The taste is all sweet malt and some carmel. the alcohol is very well hidden. It's a very sweet beer,it's good,but it's really nothing special. The m/f is medium with all flavors mixing OK. Not a bad beer,but you better like malt.

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