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River Horse Special Ale ESB | River Horse Brewing Co.

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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 thethrone
2.99/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours clear amber, with small head which immediately disappears. No lacing.

S - Caramel malts with some fruity notes. A mineral-like aroma come up in the back end.

T - Malt is the prominent flavor here, a bit too sweet, but overall not a lot of flavor to speak off.

M - Mouthfeel is pretty thin, with low carbonation.

D - May make a good session beer for some, but its not a beer I would want to have again.

 417 characters

Photo of saccro
3.33/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - straight-up amber. nice lasting head. good belgian lace. Cream-colored head. A little hazy.

S - very fruity aromatics from yeast. very little hop aroma. good bready malt aroma.

T - fruity. Tastes kinda like fruit cocktail (peach/pear). grainy aftertaste. delayed bitterness. no real malt flavor. Kinda average. Clean.

M - medium body. medium carbonation.

D - easy to drink. quenching. nothing special (despite name).

 425 characters

Photo of aahynick
3.22/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

45F in a pilsner glass

A- instant crazy foam, dark gold

S- mild spicy aroma

T- almost flavorless, after warming a lot, maltyness comes out

M - easy, medium body

D- I really liked the body on this one but with almost no flavor and a nightmare pour I'd give it a pass everytime.

 282 characters

Photo of joshlara
2.97/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My first offering from this brewery. The bottle says it is an ESB style ale. Listed here as an amber ale so we shall see. Very disappointing appearance. The coloring is okay as it's a light amber burnt orange color but there is literally no head immediately after a strong pour and no collar afterwards. Butterscotch and caramel aroma. Tastes like the sun tea my wife makes during the summer. Almost spot on. Absolutely no hop seem to be present. It seems to be almost an unsweetened iced tea. Has a different flavor, caramel and diacytel. I guess more of an ESB than an amber ale in my opinion albeit an uninspiring one. Is drinkable but I would not purchase it again.

 669 characters

Photo of sliv
3.02/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I spent a long time staring at the beer refrigerators in the store down the street from me, trying to decide if I wanted something new or something familiar. I must have looked lost, since the owner came and recommended this one to me, as well as the Tripel Horse (to be tasted tomorrow…) I have had such good luck with his recommendations in the past, that I was positive this would be a worthy beer. However, on sampling I discovered that I didn’t find anything “extra” about this ESB except maybe extra mediocre.

This beer poured a thin, weak head. The head subsided almost immediately into nothing. Looking through the glass, I could see a faint haze swirling about in the honey-amber-copper color. I didn’t notice too much carbonation at first glance, but the bubbles were there…you just have to look for them.

Right away I could smell light sweet malts. This beer has promise. Something metallic underneath, though. Not sure what it is. Bad 6-pack? Old beer? Bad water? Not a strong odor, but definitely there, lurking behind the nice malts.

Very light taste in this beer. No single thing really stands out. Very basic light ale. The sweet malts are there, and the metallic smell is now a faint metallic taste, but not so much to overpower the malt. Very light aftertaste here. Nice finish. Seems very balanced.

Mouth feel:
Only a very slight bit of carbonation. I would have preferred a little more, so that you notice the beer is there. This is light and sweet, but not cloyingly so. These go by very quickly.

This is a very easy to drink beer, but there’s nothing truly outstanding here. The metallic taste fades away after about half a bottle. I could definitely drink this one all night. I hardly noticed that I was almost finished with the second beer almost as soon as I poured it. This reminds me of a hundred other forgettable ales that won’t make you sick, and can be had again and again and again and (well, you get the idea)

 2,011 characters

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.

 464 characters

Photo of HeroicDoses
2.59/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a midnight copper with a long lasting fluffy head. Looks pretty good in a pint glass. Smell is average at best...nothing to write home about. Has a caramel taste, but falls a little flat. Overall nothing really jumps out about this beer. Almost like you really have to search for it's character. In the end though it's not that bad, it basically comes off as just an average beer. To me River Horse overdoes it more often than not (Hop A Lot A Mus for example), but this beer does the opposite (it doesn't do enough). The finish is like eating an actual caramel...sticky and sweet. Would I buy this again? No. But would I say it's crap? No. It's just an average beer.

 674 characters

Photo of maximumsheehan
3.1/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Small head that faded quickly. Pours an orangey red color.

Very sweet, honey comes through.

Flavors are balanced, caramel and honey are prominent ones.

Mouth feel:
Carbonation is barely noticeable.

Very easy to drink however it is very sweet so I didn't find myself wanting more than one.

This is an ok beer that I would certainly drink if I was offered one. I wouldn't buy it. A previous review sums this beer up perfectly, forgettable.

 509 characters

Photo of Amar
3.39/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this into a pint glass but didn't notice much froth (becasue ESBs apparently have low carbonation).

Smell was sweet and really estery with strong fruity hints.

The flavor was slightly dissapointing: it was neither pronounced nor subtle. In other words, it wasn't there. You could easily sense the sweet undertones but it was very impossible to identify any flavors per se. This ale has such a light body and feels just like water especially right after you swallowed it. I had part of this ale with blueberry waffles and ended up appreciating it a little bit more but I wouldn't call this ale anything but slightly above average. So much for it being the flagship ale of River Horse!

 699 characters

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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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