Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

River Horse Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale | River Horse Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
177 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our warming winter Ale is amber in color, malty and full bodied. Belgian yeast provides a variety of delicate characteristics in the nose and on the palate.

Added by dsa7783 on 03-22-2008

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 177 | Ratings: 365
Photo of Sammy
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A dark coloured ale, with a sour yeasty aroma, and a sour yeasty taste, something like a Belgian shwartzbier. Medium mouthfeel. Fizzy carbonation, like Dr. Pepper.Carmel, toffee, orange and spicy herbal juicey. Not bad, sweetness makes it drinkable. a fair Belgian ale.

 269 characters

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep amber hue with an off white creamy head. There was good lacing and retention.

The smell featured initial black licorice and orange peel aromas with mild dark fruits and some various herbal spices.

The taste consisted of a dark chocolate, dark sweet fruits, orange peel and licorice. Some earthy ginger flavor as well.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness and slightly creamy.

Overall a very flavorful and unique winter beer, and accessible Belgian Strong Ale.

 486 characters

Photo of Metalmonk
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a disappointing thin head, but the color is a gorgeous ruby-laced caramel brown. A whole lotta lace covers the glass.

Aroma is cherry, chocolate, light spices, and slightly sour background.

Chocolate and cherry both come on strong in the flavor, with lighter shades of caramel and dessert spices in back. Finishes slightly sour. Good, but doesn't leave you craving another sip.

This has a lot going for it, it's almost there...but it has a kind of veil over it. The flavors you would expect for the style are here, just not as bold as they should be. It could use more ass-kicking character...flavor knobs turned about just a notch or two more, that would do it.

 677 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Upon opening the bottle the whiff was strong fruit (especially cherry) and alcohol. After pouring the scent was still fruit (less cherry) and still alcohol, but not in a hot or burning way. Nice strong malt character, with enjoyable fruit character and hints of spiciness in time.
Pours with brownish amber with red highlight that's rather clear. A one finger head settles by 1/2 to a nice denseness with a yellowy tint.
Spicy flavors are bolder in taste than in aroma, in fact they are close to outweighing the malt. Fortunately it doesn't and enough of the nice fruity flavors still exist. Additional malt quality in a non-fruity manner too, somewhere between caramel and roast . Fairly remarkable dryness, but there is enough sweetness to prevent excess, and a mild bitterness remains with the dryness. I like the balance. Alcohol significantly less noticeable than in the aroma.
Nice smoothness, but not thick or heavy, but edges towards creaminess. Carbonation is light enough, but not a high level and not that effervescent.
I'm actually pretty darn happy with this. Tasty, balances, fruity, yeasty and smooth. I'll have another, thank you.
Thanks JB

 1,165 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a chalice, the beer pours an amber/brown color with pretty much no head at all. What little head there was fizzed away pretty quickly. It smells like toasted malt, dark fruit, brown sugar and some nuttiness. It tastes the same way to me, except there's a bit of an herbal flavor that reminds me of Jagermeister. It's not too sweet, not too bitter. The alcohol isn't very noticable at all. Mouthfeel is light/medium, almost watery, with not much carbonation at all. Drinkability is good, it is pretty easy to drink and goes down easy. Not bad to have just one bottle to try, but I don't think I would want to drink more than 1-2 of these at a time.

 657 characters

Photo of Rudgers73
4.14/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz. bottle. The head fizzes up to 3/4" and settles quickly to nothing. The beer is a nice dark caramel color. Very Belgian-like aroma with sticky sweet sugar and roasted malts. The taste is very interesting. It starts out malty with a bit of mild hops showing through then ends very abruptly with a nutty and dry aftertaste. I, for one, love beers that have a nutty aftertaste. Although I don't think this has very many aspects of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale other than smell, I think it makes an awesome brown ale. It's strong, sweet, nutty, and well balanced. It would have gotten a 4.5 out of me for mouthfeel if it hadn't have shown that little bit of wateriness that definitely doesn't show up in a good Belgian style beer. Very drinkable thought.

 785 characters

Photo of torchedpunk
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a sample pack that came with three of each in their line.

Appearance- Pours a two inch head that dissipates quickly. Light in color compared to most 8% apv brews A dark bronze. Steady carbonation.

Smell- Smell of an interesting blend of malts, I can't pin point what's in this but it's unique. Almost a similar arome to Yuengling.

Taste- This to me is the best River Horse brew. I actually looked forward to tasting this again after the frist. Very smooth matly taste, and the alcohol is noticable. I drank it chilled and it added to the blend of crispness. The hops are subtle but have a good kick.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkablility- This guy isn't half bad. It's smooth and crisp has a bite and is great for the cold weather. This is the only reason so far I have to buy a River Horse beer.

 808 characters

Photo of Hibernator
3.92/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

River Horse Belgian Frostbite
12 oz brown bottle
Served in an Allagash tulip glass

Pours a deep amber brown color with an unimpressive head, but leaves interesting trails of sticky lacings behind.

The nose is malty with spices cutting through and that distinctive Belgian yeast flair.

Juicy malt backbone with hints of dark fruits - possibly prunes or plums. Sweet brown sugar and caramel with a touch of molasses. Finishes with a spicy and herbal punch. The carbonation feels flat and ultimately detracts from the beer.

The 8.0% ABV is very well hidden and the beer is quite drinkable.

 602 characters

Photo of Calico
3.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

To start off, let me say that I think the entire '05 batch of this was infected with lactobacillus, hence the sourness that many reviewers are reporting.

This is the '06, being reviewed from a 12-oz. bottle. Head is slight but clingy. Appearance is a fairly clear brown. Aroma is biscuity, malty, toasty, a small amount of noble hops. I was expecting some of the phenolic notes in the taste that last year's batch brought, but alas, it seemed more like a German alt, with a little bit of yeasty/malty richness. This can't be 8% abv.

I actually liked last year's better, but I am weird. When I was 2 years old I was begging my elder family members for an ounce of straight vinegar. I enjoyed the entire lacto-infected 12-pack of River Horse brews I had. So never mind me. This year's... as a winter ale? skip it and take the Ithaca Winterizer or the North Coast WinterBraun instead. Or the Southern Tier Old Man Winter, or that old stand-by, Anchor Our Special Ale. Any of them has more character than this one.

 1,017 characters

Photo of RBorsato
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, bordering on black, with mahogany hues and a low light brown head and light decent carbonation. Prominent chocolate, roasty, and Belgian yeast aromas with some dark fruit notes. Robust dars malt and dark fruit flavors; nice balance... not sweet at all. Medium-light bodied.

Very nice American BSDA !!

Per label: "lots of roasted Caramel Malt"

'5274' lasered near bottom
Tasted: 11/20/06

($1.79 / 12 oz bottle)

 434 characters

Photo of deejaydan
2.3/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Thanks to ImStilltheGman for the opportunity...

Pours a ruby color with minimal head and lacing. Aroma is faint musty dried fruits. Taste is tart, and puckering, some astringency here. Mouthfeel suffers from the taste. A slight sour character to the taste as well. Not good. Drinkable? Not especially, but I'm glad I got a chance to try it out.

 347 characters

Photo of billybob
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours dark brown with a less than one finger light tan head that fades fast with very slight lacing. musty fruity bready ginger smell. taste is sweet peach malt up front with a lemon or lime sour hoppy finish. mouthfeel light smooth clean slight hop after taste with just right carbonation. this is the first beer beer i have had from them and i hope to try some others.

 370 characters

Photo of
2.26/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12oz. bottle

Poured a light brown with ruby highlights. Very faint haze. Medium sized, light tan head, which faded fast.

Aroma was spicy and citrusy. Low grade Belgian scent, looking for a little more given title.

Then the train went off the tracks. Taste was tart and citrusy. Way too sour for me to appreciate much of anything else. I struggled through a bit more, and think the malt character was somewhat biscuity. Reminded me just a bit of Rodenbach.

Mouthfeel was medium in body, with low carbonation. Moderately drying.

Overall, just not good in my opinion. This is the third beer I have tried from this brewer, and it's going to be the last for a while. If sour is your thing, though, be sure to give this one a try.

 740 characters

Photo of cbl2
3.13/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11/24/2006 $7.99 6 pack 8.00% No best by date.


Dark brown, bordering on black with faint highlights of ruby, topped by an inch of tight tan head that is slow to settle.


Wet blankets, biscuits, brown sugar and a touch of nuttiness.


Thin insipid mouthfeel is overlayed by a touch of maple syrup and cashews. Not a lot of complexity here, and the easy to drink sweetness wears on the senses by the end of the glass.

 469 characters

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.15/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle

Pours a medium chestnut brown with a small tan head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is malty sweet with some bready and Belgian yeasty tones. Also a toasted nuttiness and a light cocoa smell are present.

Tastes like it smells. Sweet malty flavor upfront with some nuttiness and light cocoa flavors. Has a light breadiness with some Belgian yeast flavors. Finishes sweet.

Medium body, low carbonation.

This beer has some nice characteristics, but the sweetness is just a little cloying. If it was about 1/2 as sweet, this would be a very good brew.

 587 characters

Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have had the chance to try a few River Horse brews when I lived in the Philly area and honestly wasnt all that impressed but Iam gonna give them a go again.This offering poured a deep murky ruddy brown with a tight formed 1/2 finger slight off white head that was gone quite fast leaving no lace behind.Aromas of vanilla,raisin,roasted nuts and slight phenols are pretty appetizing,I like the flavors going on mainly because the phenolic flavors dont dominate somewhat pruney and raisiny with some herbal sharpness and cola lingering flavors with a hint of earth as it warms.Goes down very easily the mouthfeel is spot on not overly heavy for such big flavors,I like it better than most I think.

 697 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
2.8/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - dark ruby red color, with a thin off whitish head, very faintly visible carbonation

S - hmmm, an enticing molasses/date flavor, twinge of alcohol aroma as well, smells good

T - more sour than i expected, at first like a sour lactose type flavor, then the flavors separate into sour fruit and almost a coffee type flavor, its ok, not a good blending

M&D - sour and bitter, kinda chewy, its ok but not a repeater for me

 430 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Cherry caramel with juicy orange edges. While not as expansive as the heads on most Belgian versions of the style, Frostbite's head is a generous two fingers after a controlled pour. The foam is toasted sawdust in color and is rich, thick and creamy. It looks like butter pecan ice cream as it melts (sans pecans) and deposits a shredded circumferential sheet of lace.

The nose is dark malty, sour and phenolically spicy. For some reason though, even though it's purported to use an authentic Belgian yeast strain, the beer doesn't really smell authentic to me. The various pieces of the olfactory puzzle don't fit together well enough and don't add up to anything all that compelling on an individual basis.

On the palate, Frostbite is as sour as it smells. I may be able to get past it to appreciate the rest of the flavor profile, but I don't really care for this degree of sourness is my BSDAs. Why on earth is an 8% beer listed as a BDA anyway? An ABV of 8% is 'strong' where I come from. Happily though, the alcohol is well-buried.

I didn't expect this degree of phenolicity at all. I don't mind it in small doses, but when a beer tastes like it's been spiked with a generous shot of Laphroaig, it's time to break out the Band-Aid comparisons. Otherwise, it's sweetly caramel malty with very little contribution from hops. There's a modicum of clove spice I guess. Hard to tell under all that puckery tartness. Time to invest in a new yeast strain River Horse.

The body is okay for the stated style (BDA), not for the actual style (BSDA). A beer with this much flavor and this much alcohol should have a body with more than a trace of viscosity. It doesn't need to be hippopotamus-like, but a bit more heft would be welcome. I have no quarrel with the un-Belgian degree of carbonation; then again, I've grown to like and appreciate the exuberance of most Belgian beers.

River Horse Belgian Frostbite is an odd brew that would be much better with a new, cleaner yeast strain. I wouldn't say that it's a chore to drink, but the intense sourness is beginning to wear on me now that I've entered the home stretch. Is it worth climbing aboard this horse (okay, hippo) at all? As is, I'd have to say no.

 2,218 characters

Photo of benmiliron
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Paid $1.49 for a bottle. Nice dark mahogany brown, not at all cloudy. Smell is very nice, candi sugar and fruit, rum. Taste has a bit of the fruit and dark malt, with a strange type of molasses-like syrupy flavor, a bit artificial. Mouthfeel is a bit watery - should be heavier I think, with a sharp but not too rough bubble.

 325 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one finger, light tan head that quickly fades to a ring leaving a traces of lace. Deep amber almost black color. Very light carbonation and medium bodied. Sweet toffee nose. Starts sweet and malty, fruity, finish has hints of hops. $1.75 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

 296 characters

Photo of sacfly
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz, no date
Pours a hazy brown with a thick head of brown/tan bubbles. Aroma is toasty… burnt toffee. Flavor is fruity at first and then yields to a sour flavor that lasts long in to the aftertaste. The sourness is the same as was detected in the ESB by River Horse. Much more welcome in this Dark strong Belgian than in the ESB. Not bad.

 342 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thin, off-white head that quickly reduced to wispiness. The color is a reddish-orange/brown and the nose is really sweet, almost sugary. The mouthfeel is medium with a malty presence at the front and then finishing with a lightly bitter hoppiness. I find it kind of light in the taste department, which leads me to wonder if the clarity is the result of over-fining, which usually leads to a reduction in taste. I have noted the same phenomenon in another brewery's Belgian-style ale. Note to you brewers out there: Hey, it's a Belgian-style beer! It can be cloudy. You need not make it clear and pretty on my account.

 618 characters

Photo of ggaughan
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this one sitting in my beer fridge in the cellar for some time and thought it was the right time to crack her open. The beer poured a deep brown color with a slight tan head that stuck around for a few minute and left a nice little ring around my pint glass. The aroma was a nice floral, sweet mix with some caramel malts and hops in it. Very nice. The taste is more of the same from the aroma. Sweet malts and a bit hoppy but overall a pretty good balance. Not an overly complex beer and for the 8% abv a bit disapointing for complexity but a very drinkable beer with a light medium body.

 595 characters

Photo of crwills
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Not bad, but not worth it for the ABV.

Pours much darker than I expected for something called 'frostbite' -- I was expecting a pale ale I guess. Brown with some red highlights. Small head, and looks quite carbonated.

Floral aroma, along with some mild unripe berries. Bit of sugar malt, bit of alcohol presence, mild hoppy notes once in a while.

Hops are much more prevalent in the flavour, which is surprising. Thin mouthfeel... not unpleasant, but a bit of a letdown. This beer is quite refreshing for the style. Some malt and earwarming alcohol in there. Not that carbonated after all. Same unripe fruit notes in the flavour. A bready, yeasty aftertaste.

 668 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

it's still winter, I can still enjoy this, though it's a balmy 25 degrees out...

Dark brown color, nice, though modest cocoa tan foam above...adequate...

Aroma: malt, sweetish, dark, cocoa and nut and...rather rich, likable...

Very tasty on the tongue, too...cocoa rings loud, dark fruit, deliciousness, dates and nuts, and all those other things...rich, molasses-y, ...big and rich, sez I, no country music fan...

Biggish body, longish finish...sweetness, richness, and full of flavor. Delish...I just keep on enjoyin'...

 534 characters

River Horse Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
3.56 out of 5 based on 365 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!