River Horse Special Ale ESB | River Horse Brewing Co.

134 Reviews
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River Horse Special Ale ESBRiver Horse Special Ale ESB

Brewed by:
River Horse Brewing Co.
New Jersey, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-01-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 134 | Ratings: 162
Photo of jwc215
2.51/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours copper - decent clarity - with a thin head that soon disappears to nothing - poor head retention. Little spots of quickly canishing traces of lacing on glass.

The smell is indescribly off - seems like a homebrew that didn't quite come out right. Fortunately, it is mild. Other than that though, can't say there's much to it.

The taste is rather raw. Again, like an off home brew. It almost has something to save it - almost. Swwet malt balanced out by water more than anything. This is the most un-ESB ESB that I;ve had. Sweetness is not overwhelming, so something is balancing it out. A fruitiness is hinted at, but lost. There is a tea-like earthiness. That must be it. But, other than controlling some of the sweetness, adds little to the taste.

There is a watery thinness, and an unusual grittiness. The body is on the upper side of light. There is some fleeting coating effect. But, the feel falls apart enough to bring it to mediocre at best, even forgetting style.

I understand that styles are open to interpretation, but this one misses the mark. It's not very good, ESB or not. It does have something, a lightness about it perhaps, or a mildness, that doesn't make it drain pour, but it comes pretty close.

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Photo of Jacobob10
2.49/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a hazy amber/orage color with almost no head at all. Leads me to believe that maybe this beer wasn't fresh. Decent smell nonetheless, nothing great though. Slight hop bitterness in the taste, but the beer was very flat and lacked carbonation. I wouldn't recommend this beer, but I would like to try it again to see if it was just a bad sample.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
2.43/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - dark amber color with a light beige head that thiined out leaving a little lacing.
S - an odd bitter aroma.
T - again it is bitter but has an odd sort of bitterness, almost buttery.
F - light/medium body with a flat feel.
D - I got halfway through and decided enough was enough... 1/2 drain pour.

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Photo of abents
2.41/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to mikereaser for the brew. Busy red and whit label with no dating.
Explodes out of the bottle causing me to spill a little on the floor; because, of course, I had no glass ready to pour it into. Needless to say this one's got a huge white head made up of larger bubbles. The beer itself sits a murky amber that you can almost see your fingers through as I hold the glass. Smells slightly sweet with caramel malts and a tinge of lemon/citrus. Woah, we got the funk. Was not expecting that one. Need to regroup and figure out what's going on here.
I'm guessing this is not what they were going for, it's got a distinct lemony funk to it, but with nothing else going on this beer it is not pleasant. Kind of an off weird tasting beer that has little to no hop flavor and on the lighter watery side.

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Photo of cubedbee
2.32/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dull caramel color with a thin white head that fades right away to a ring, no lacing to speak of. Smell is decent and simple; a grassy hops scent over a biscuity malt. Tastes is very underwhelming--some sweet malt and butterscotch flavors, maybe a tiny bit of hops, but mostly just a weak washed out iced-tea taste. The taste isn't helped by the very thin body. This is from the River Horse sampler pack, and is supposedly their special ale, but it is the weakest and least flavorful of the bunch.

Second bottle from the sampler pack was more of the same, but had an horrid strong disgusting smell---like a mix between soy sauce and vinegar. Don't know how this didn't carry over to the taste, but I wasn't tasting anything, but boy, I don't think I've ever smelled a less appealing beer.

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Photo of Gyle41386
2.31/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Thanks, mikereaser.

Pours a hazy amber color. Tons of carbonation. Big head doesn't really retain well, and practically none of it sticks. Flurry of activity in the glass.

Really weird musty aroma. I'd be lying if I tried to describe it as anything else.

Just a weird flavor overall. Doesn't make me think ESB at all. It's pretty malty sweet, with a weird metallic kind of finish. Maybe some fruitiness, but there's just not much depth to the flavor.

Medium body. Feel starts out creamy, then is broken up by the lively carbonation. Decently smooth, although it's a bit of a chore to drink it all.

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Photo of dickroop
2.29/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured a clear bronze with not much head and only a faint aroma, so faint I couldn't really discern anything but a kind of beery smell.

Taste was not much there, every-so-faint hops presence and kinda flabby malt flavor that gave a kind of sourish finish. Mouthfeel was weak and watery, at least the carbonation was OK. Have I been drinking so much DFH that I've burned out my taste buds? I don't think so. This is just kinda ordinary beer, like the rating says "not impressed". One could drink a lot of this... if there wasn't anything good around. And it would be better than BMC... but not much. I got this ESB in a variety-pack case, a Pennsylvania special, would never have tried the stuff if not for wanting to get some of the "Hop Hazard". This stuff is a "No-hop Hazard".

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Photo of lackenhauser
2.03/5  rDev -36%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Decent enough orangeish color.No head to speak of.Carbonation seems low.Very earth/bready and not much more.Green bananas?Flavor isnt extra or special or bitter.Smooth but really lacks something.Doesnt seem to go anywhere or do anything.Drinkable enough but theres a lot more out there at the same price that packs a lot more flavor.

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Photo of PEBKAC
1.78/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Nice seeing fresh River Horse around town again. Say hello to the handsome hippo on the label posing for the portrait. :)

Big forceful spurt as the cap comes off. Poured into a cheapie pint glass.

Not a gusher, but it pours like one. Several inches of off-white insulation foam stiffen up & park it. Underneath, it's murky & gunky, & a little less appetizing then your standard amber. Pebble-sized bits & floaters litter the bottom of the glass.

Smell is a lot of caramel that I wasn't expecting. ...and a whole lot of butter. Really obvious amounts of greasy margarine. Was this recipe part of the list of reformulated beers? I was assured this was fresh. Oh man, that is ugly. I mean, I sort of like this is some beers, but that's not what I was looking forward to.

Taste is... gah... really sweet. "...careful addition of carapils malt adds a slight sweetness you might mistake for honey." Eek! Maple candies, honey spread, buttermilk creaminess. Not much stickiness, just spoonfuls of sugar. A little toast & burnt newspaper on the very back of it, & maybe a squirt of orange zest in there somewhere, but that's it. This is like a really bad attempt at a Biere de Miel clone.

Carbonation is well to do, but that alone won't help me finish this. The pale is a so much better sessioner then this weak reach around. Not really offensive, but just impossible(for me at least). Probably could waste the rest of this on an orange glaze for some chicken though.

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River Horse Special Ale ESB from River Horse Brewing Co.
3.17 out of 5 based on 162 ratings.
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