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 emsroth
3.94/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

App: Slightly darker than amber. A small, one finger head that turned into a thick lace on the top of the beer.

Smell: Sweet floral and piney hops. Smells great but much more like an APA

Taste: A malt in line with the british ale styles: slightly toasty and a bit watery. A little bit sweet. Ends with a slight bitterness. Light taste.

Medium body; very drinkable.

Not the best of the style, but a tasty, highly drinkable brew.

 445 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.95/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with a thick bubbly head. Lacing was produced on the glass as it emptied. The aroma was pleasant, fruity and sweet overtones were very noticable. The body was thinner than expected, but flavorful with a nice balance of malts and some slight bitterness. The malt lasts long on the tongue. Extremely drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of dedrinker
4/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Full amber color with off-white head. Aromas - fruity, malty, and slightly nutty with jelly and biscuits. Tastes totally like a UK bitter/pale/ESB. Total English yeast strain going on here. More on the malty side with a slight butter cookie taste on the finish. Medium body and a great U.S. copy of a U.K. style. Not for American craft lovers of hop-town.

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Photo of mrgrinch
4/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Caramel brown with light carbonation. It was served in a plastic sample cup at the brewery, so I could not really get a good look at the clarity.

Smell - A sweet buttery smell.

Taste - Sweet tastes that fades to a bitter.

Mouthability - Thick and nice.

Drinkability - ESB is not my favorite style, but this one is one that I would try again if I was in the mood for such a thing. I did enjoy it more than the Ship Inn ESB I had earlier in the day.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well, I must have gotten a good batch or something. I thought this beer is a solid, though not spectacular ESB. Pretty drinkable.

It pours a clear amber with minimal head which goes down into some lacing. It smells like a standard ESB. English hops dominate with some malt coming through.

Taste, again, is solid and can be thought of as standard for an ESB. Very well balanced, but straightforward.

Very good for a session brew.

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Photo of LarryKemp
4/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I started to review this beer as an ESB because that is what the label called it. It was not a good ESB. In fact, I would not say it is anykind of ESB. Then I changed my review ot an American Amber Ale. It does not fit into that category either. So I will just review it as a beer. It poured a very nice clear medium dark golden with a firm off white head that lasted a fair amount of time. I found little evidence of hops either in the nose or on the tongue. Both the aroma and flavor was balanced toward the malt. There was a very nice malitness in the aroma which inreased the pleasure of sipping the beer. The malts were present also in the taste with a slight amount of carbonation playing with the tip of my tongue. It had a medium mouthfeel. It is a very nice session beer. Too bad they don't sell it in Texas. I would buy more of it.

 841 characters

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.02/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bright fruit with citric pop and plenty of juicy malt. Smells wonderful!

Hazy orange, little head, good retention.

Citrus overtones with more bright fruit. Hop smack. Plenty of malt flavor and body. Roasted edge but mainly biscuit toast with caramel bit. Nicely balanced with an enticing sweet edge and an ever-citric nose. A little bitterness. Medium body, ample carbonation.

Spot on and ever-so-tasty, with a great aesthetic to the label.

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Photo of tlinner
4.1/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber that would be pretty clear if there wasn't so much sediment floating around. And seriously, there's a LOT of sediment. If I swirl the glass, it moves as if trapped in Jell-O. The head is big and frothy and leaves behind nice lacing. The smell is very sweet. Melon, caramel, and something that's indescribable; like that smell of "clean" when you walk into a Wal-Mart. The taste is, again, very sweet. There's caramel, honey, light fruits, and there's that "clean" feeling again. It's actually reminding me of a really crisp apple when you first bite into the skin. The mouthfeel is slightly acidic, but pretty smooth overall. I'm puzzled by the less-than-average reviews of this beer; I really liked it, even though it certainly doesn't taste like any ESB I've ever had. Maybe it's that mysterious crispness that makes me enjoy it so much...wait a minute, after a second glass, I figured it out. Apple crispness? Caramel malt? It tastes like a candy apple!

 975 characters

Photo of wiseguy142
4.55/5  rDev +43.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First thing I notice: SHIT- bottle conditioned. Get to eat hop flakes this whole time. Should probably pay more attention to the bottle next time. That being said, this is the most sediment I've ever seen in a bottle conditioned beer. Lots of very large hop particles left clinging to the bottom/side of the bottle after the pour, not to mention what I got in the beer. No biggie, I guess I'm used to drinking homebrew anyway, but it's definitely something that could be improved.

Pours a great murky iced tea color.. VERY unfiltered and authentic looking. Amazing creamy, frothy head. Really pleased with that. I love it when ou get little dollops of foam on top of the beer even after most of the head has subsided. (Note: even further into the review this head is still creamy and amazing. It's like it keeps getting regenerated)

Aroma smacks me in the face immediately with the sweetness. Lots of crystal malt with a unique fruity character to it. My nose is a little stuffed so I'm sad I'm missing out on some of the complexities I know are in here. Reminds me of a candied apple of all things.

Taste is rich and malty. Reminds me of a lighter version of an Altbier or a English Pale Ale blended with a Dopplebock (that would be weird..). Slight honey character to it with a good backing of pure hop flavor and balanced bitterness. Damn. This is one of my new favorite beers.

Mouthfeel is almost like the beer evaporates in your moth, but not due to excessive carbonation. It's just that smooth. There's something nagging me a bit towards the finish of the beer about the mouthfeel but I can't pinpoint it.. reminds me too much of my own homebrew I guess. Maybe a little dullness in the hop taste towards the end or slight oxidation... but seriously this is good.

I feel slightly seduced by this beer. It's like the hot girlfriend I never had. Every time you take asip you get a nice forthy head back on top. It doesn't taste like hop soda like a lot of American craft beers and doesn't have the consistency of Diet Coke. This is a real beer with some real flavors. Will definitely pick up some more later.

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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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