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

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River Horse Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter AleRiver Horse Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale

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

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Reviews: 179 | Ratings: 376
Photo of kojevergas
2.82/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a bottle into a dinner glass.

A: Amber-brown colour. Bad head. Kind of appealing.

Sm: Musty malt, hint of prune, treated barley, maybe an adjunct, nuts (almond?).

T: No, not almond - caramel! The body is built strangely for a winter amber. The finish is nutty, not hoppy. The balance is biased towards the finish.

Mf: Too smooth, a bit too wet. Nicer towards the finish.

Dr: Too much caramel. Too expensive.

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Photo of JMD
3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Rich dark copper with nice foamy head that fades very slowly. Leaves clumpy lacing down the glass.

S: Belgian yeast and ripe dark fruits. Some toasted malt with hints of brown sugar and molasses. Nice aroma but a bit subdued.

T: Toasted malt upfront, with candied dark fruit. Raisins and dark cherries are prominent. Hints of spice and licorice. ABV is well masked.

M: Medium to full bodied and smooth

D: This is a good attempt at a belgian dark ale, but doesn't quite compare with Belgian counterparts. So far I haven't been impressed with River Horse, but this is one of their better offerings.

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Photo of elinash
3.27/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark amber brown with head that disappears into a very thin ring. On first sip, this beer approximates a Belgian ale, but on closer inspection, it lacks balance and its flavors are too disparate. The nose is pungent, maybe phenolic. It has flavors of banana and spices, but further drinking leads to a very alcoholic lingering bitter and drying taste. All in all, I rate this passable to OK. It is not a very good example of a Belgian Dark Ale. Seems to me that "Belgian" is used all to often as a style branding for American beers when it only uses the ingredients and not the rigor of Belgian brewing.

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Photo of ixodus
3.32/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured into a Chimay Goblet. Dark brown in color that lets very little light through. Two finger white head that slowley bubles down into a thin foam.

S: Sweet malts with a hint of spicyness, raisins, dark fruit, metallic twang. Hides the booze well.

T: Dark fruits,caramel, bread, belgian yeast esters, metal.

M: Medium bodied with a lot of carbonation.

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Photo of irishking1977
3.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Black/ruby amber hue with a pretty decent head that leaves a bunch of lacing.

S: Raisins, licorice, and a hint of metallic odor. Odd.

T: Begins sweet with hints of the aforementioned raisins and licorice, finishing off with a somewhat spicy finish.

M: Carbonation is good; could be ramped up slightly. Mildly creamy, but not overly so.

D: I swore I had this before, but it must've have been a different beer, such as DFH Rasion D'Etre, which this reminds me of. DFH's offering is a bit more unrefined in that the alcohol is much more prevalent. Even so, these two are somewhat similar, with this one having a slightly better drinkability.

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Photo of Pabs311
3.58/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark amber/brown color, some haziness. half-inch thick foamy off-white head.

S- Sweet maltiness. Rasin, and other dried light fruits (apricot, peaches). Some spiceness, i.e. clove.

T- Well blanced with the nose as far as aromas of fruit and spice. Not as sweet as expected. Apparent alcohol, can be a bit to much.

M/D- medium bodied, good mouthfell but lingering alcohol.

Not my favorite.

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Photo of Tombomb
4.72/5  rDev +33%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got this beer in a beer club mixed case. The theme of the case was BIG beers. With that said, so far this is the best that I have had. The pour was from a 12 oz bottle, beer was about 48 degrees. The color was a nice copper/dark amber color. Very nice head with a moderate pour that seemed to stand up well. There was some lacing ar I drank the beer from a guinness glass. The smell was cool. Lots going on in this beer. The smell had a spicy/fruity nose. The taste was better than I thought it would be for the alcohol content. I taste the dark malts and raisins. The finish could be a little smoother, but overall a great beer.

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Photo of Beejay
3/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Very dark, mohagany colored brew, with a nice tan head.

S: Sweet, with raisons, caramel, figs and grapes.. Smells very nice.

T: Burnt caramel at the begining... and actually throughout the whole thing. Slight sweetness to it, but I was expecting much more from the scent. Smokey and malty, but not the big belgian flavor I was expecting.. more like belgian ash tray.. I am a fan of roasty/smokey beers, but for some reason this seems out of place, the sweetness in the finish is nice, but the flavors do not blend well in my opinion.

M: Fairly good here, carbonation is very high and fine much like a seltzer water. There is a little bit of a sticky after feel to it...

D: Nice to try but no thanks.. I just feel like this is two opposing forces clashing together in a beer that just does not make much sense to me. I want to like it, I really do, but it is just not happening.

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Photo of david18
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at Sputen Duyvel last night and enjoyed it very much. Poured into a wine glass, like everything at that bar, it had a great dark color and and excellent flavor that had both the aroma and essence of belgian wheat with the complexity of dark malts that was both belgian and classic winter.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours clear amber-orange with one finger of foam that dissipates quickly without lacing.

Smell is yeasty - but I'm picking up more of a German yeast profile, lots of banana and clove flavors.

Belgian yeast fruitiness comes through in the flavor, no phenolic/plasticy tastes that sometimes is present with Belgian yeasts. A bit of alcohol warmth on the back end. Mouthfeel in thin - this beer could stand to have a little more body.

Drinkability is pretty good, the alcohol is masked well.

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Photo of Minotaur
2.83/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm not sure what to think of this beer. I tried it early last year as I had a craving for a winter ale and most of my standby ales were already unavailable. I love Belgians. But yet there is something cloying about this beer I can't put my finger on.

Riverhorse produces generally good beer so I decide to try it.

It pours extremely dark red-brown into both a pint glass and a goblet. Very much looks like a dubble which increased the initial appeal for me. The head is energetic and dense but not obtrusive.

I'm not sure if my problem with it is that it isn't complex enough, or that the complexities are so subtle that I can't seem to sort it out.

I love both Belgian Ales and Warmers... and I feel that this beer is somehow trying to make up its mind as to which it is. I go back and forth on the flavors which seem alternately too sweet or unbalanced in terms of malt to spice ratio. It is by no means bad quality, but I can't quite seem to wrap my taste-buds around it. There is the malt, vague bitterness. Cinnamon, clove, bready consistency, and some alluring esters. None of which appear to make up to an appealing whole.

The dark red color, malty warmth, and slight bitterness lend more towards a Winter Ale, but there is also very mild sugar and fruit flavor that leads it into Belgian territory. Half the sips I take, I really like it - half the time I find something about it to be a bit "off mark".

I find the combination of flavors and carbonation level to be bothersome to the point I gave it an average rating of drinkable - I just don't find it easy to finish off.

It is however unique enough to give it a shot though I probably would not buy another whole pack of it. I've spoken to the brewers about it and it seems to be one of the brewery's most popular offerings. So clearly many find something in there that I seem to be missing.

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Photo of tjd112
4.21/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured into Coke glass

Appearance: Black body, white half-finger head that dissipates to very little lacing

Smell: Bananas and clove

Taste: Basically follows the smell, except with more raisin and more booziness

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, very dry

Drinkability: Drink slowly

Overall: Yet another great Belgian imitation from NJ

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.48/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a honey walnut w/ cherry hues with an almost non-existent off white head that dissolves to no lacing.

Aroma consists of dark fruit, yeast, and sweet malt. Perhaps some woody notes, and possibly vinous. I am having trouble deciphering the specifics of this one.

The flavor consists of cherry, yeast, and sweet malt, much like the nose. As it warms, the spice shows up as well as the aforementioned woody aspects, and possibly some candied sugar.

Medium to thin in body with little carbonation, slight burn with woody notes and abv, not much else to report.

I am really not sure what to make of this brew. Certainly not quite exemplary of the style, but still tasty and worth a try. The cherry somewhat overwhelmed my palate, and there did not seem to be the balance the A's of the world have.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a hazy bronze with a finger of tan head, into a pint glass. The aroma consisted of banana, clove, nutmeg, and bubble gum. The taste confirmed all of this, but also candi sugar, coriander, and lemon peel, with a little bite of dryness on the finish. Medium body and decent carbonation. I'd like to age some of this to see the result. Definitely a decent example of the style, but Unibroue it is not.

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Photo of jlindros
2.88/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Found this bottle on the back of a shelf dusty, probably about a year old so not very fresh, hope that didn't ruin the beer. Poured into oversized bubble wine glass.

A: Very dark brown color with slight maroon tinge almost no light, light frothy head the dissipates very slowly but leaves the remnants of the head for a while

N: Nose is smooth light, slightly malty, pretty fruity, slight vanilla, touch of raisin, some alcohol and yeast

T: Lots of fruit and raisin, a strange toasty fig newton like taste, very chewy, some alcohol, a little sour, it does taste a little old and past its prime, not much for Belgian at all except the alcohol sour dark fruity taste and some yeastiness, slightly buttery, pretty phenolic (finally figured that taste out with this beer)

M: Chewy and pretty thick, decent carbonation

F: Finishes pretty sweet and strange malts, more of that fig newton like taste, leaves a dry rotten fruit taste in the mouth, phenolic and a slight slimey trail on the tongue with toasty buttered popcorn

Final thoughts: Not sure if this beer is way past its prime, or if this is usually how it is. I'll have to try to revisit when it's fresh. Its got some nice dark fruit taste and good malts, but too much rotten fruit and phenols, sticky and chewy, not the best drinking experience

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown with dark ruby highlights when held up to light. Thick, creamy head, about one finger thick. Excellent retention and leaves very nice lacing on the glass.

S - Strong aroma of sweet, dark malts. Big caramel and a little roasted grain. Hints of spice and just a touch of Belgian yeast.

T - Very sweet with hints of candi sugar, caramel and roasted malts. Light taste of the typical Belgian yeast tastes. A mild spiciness comes through as the beer warms.

M/D - Smooth and creamy feel. Very easy drinking. Good carbonation level. Almost nitro tap like feel.

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Photo of gford217
3.33/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle courtesy of mhewes poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep brown that shows clear bronze when held up to light. There's a big creamy off-white head that dissipates slowly and leaves a wispy cap and bits of lacing.

The aroma is very sweet with some caramel malts and plenty of dark fruits and some Belgian yeast aromas. There is a hint of spiciness in the nose but the sweetness is prominent.

The taste is also extremely sweet, with candi sugar and Belgian yeast dominating. There are some dark fruits and a little bit of spice in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low, soft carbonation. It's sticky sweet on the palate.

This is a decent beer but the overwhelming sweetness makes it a little tough to drink the entire bottle.

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Photo of Risser09
3.41/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic - fridge - 2008

Appearance: An aggressive pour yields deep brown colored ale with ruby red highlights. The beer is seemingly transparent with a 3.5" tall, cream soda-esque head. The top is frothy with craters left behind as though cooking a pancake. Great retention and sweeping lace is left behind.

Smell: Deep caramel malt aroma is accompanied by cherry, walnut and some oak. I don't get any hops or yeast.

Taste: Pinchy burst of bitterness gives way to a roasted and caramel malt. A certain spiciness of clove and pepper linger into the finish. A roasted chestnut and coffee finish are dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth beer, with some carbonation. This brew actually has a bit of boozy feeling in the finish. Nicely audacious.

Drinkability: A good winter ale. My least favorite style shows off what can be good about the style. Roasty and boozy, with a little spice. Cool.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and minimal lacing. Aroma of candi sugar with some dominating Belgian style malt. Taste is also a nice enough mix between some candi sugar and nice Belgian malt with some fruity ester and a lightly spicy yeast. Body is not as full as I would have liked it with some good carbonation and no presence of alcohol. Not bad but makes me want to learn more from this brewery.

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Photo of magnj
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a 6-pack in December. I didn't love it so I stuck two in the basement hoping they would mellow out. When I first reviewed this beer I noted that it was hot and harsh. It has since mellowed significantly, the over-carbonation issue seems to have gone away and this beer is really starting to taste great. This is actually the third time I'm reviewing this, the review below from December is a re-review from my first taste a few weeks earlier.

Still a sipper at 8% but I'm making my way through this one much quicker than I was 6 months ago.

I'll keep the other one for next year and compare, assuming they brew it again.

a - I'm giving this one a second shot. Like last time there was a huge head upon pouring, this time it was easier to manage though. Deep wood, maple syrup colors. Again a thin head remained for the whole glass, nice lacing. Carbonation quite active.

s - Smoky, Sweet, Alcohol, Wine...

t - At first I tasted primarily the roasty toasty malts. As I drank more, the alcohol really came through and seemed to overpower the brew at times. Borderline burnt, sweeter in smaller sips.

m - Better than last time, seems less thick, nicer balance of carbonation. Sits on the tongue a while, maybe half a minute.

d - Drinkable, sipper for sure at 8%...nice for a cold night watching some hockey.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle snatched from my cellar and poured into my Duvel tulip glass. Appears a mildly hazed dark crimson color with about half an inch of light ecru foam. The foam leaves no lacing to speak of. Smells and tastes of caramel, dark brown sugar, raisins, lightly roasted grains, and spicy yeast. Rather full bodied with medium carbonation. This held up fairly well .

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Photo of Jimmys
3.91/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rich, dark amber coloring. Little opaque, with a pretty solid head. Carmelly malty smells. Very solid taste, real sweet malts with a nice little pop to it. Belgian with a little pizzazz, I like it. Mouthfeel has that pop I was talking about making it an easy drinker. Got a great deal going to the brewery to pick up a couple at the end of the season.

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Photo of matty
3.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish-brown colored beer with a rapidly fading head.Aroma is fruity.Taste is dark fruits,sugar cane and spices.There is some kind of spice floating around in there,not sure what it is but it's good.Overall a pretty decent beer that I would purchase again!!

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Photo of WesWes
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a solid malt scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and roasted malts along with some Belgian candy sugar. It's refreshingly fruity with just bit of tartness. The taste is decent. It has a smooth, malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes with some moderate esters. There is a hint of earthy/roasted character as well as a bit of tart fruit. The mouthfeel is decent as well. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. It seems as though this could have been a little heavier. This is an easy drinking Belgian beer. Is it the best out there? No, but it's not bad and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

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Photo of acdcfan99
3.3/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a few cases because it was on sale. I liked when it was colder, but now that its warming not so much. Can I blame them? not so much, but even when it was cold, it didnt do too much for me. I await when I can do some palate expansion and talk specifically about what I didnt't like, but till then... However, they were exceptionally nice at the brewery, where I bought them. I have no vested interest at RH, but locals, which incl. me, who talk bad, should visit again, I had nothing but great service.

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River Horse Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
3.55 out of 5 based on 376 ratings.
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