Imperial Cherry Amber Ale | River Horse Brewing Co.

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Imperial Cherry Amber AleImperial Cherry Amber Ale
46 Ratings
Imperial Cherry Amber AleImperial Cherry Amber Ale

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

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by AltBock on 07-16-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 46 |  Reviews: 42
Reviews by Nutleybeer:
Photo of Nutleybeer
3.64/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a nice enough head, which it retained to a degree throughout. Some mild lacing stuck around as well. A dark orangey-copper color, somewhat cloudy in appearance.

The initial smell was somewhat funky. Which caught me off guard. I actually thought it might be skunked. The taste was actually pretty good, though. While listed as a "cherry" ale, it was not really fruity or tart as one might expect. An easy drinking beer. Smooth tasting. Not much of a hop presence.

I give River Horse credit for branching out with new styles. I thought this was a good drinking beer. I gather I thought it would be a bit more "extreme" in flavor, though, since it is listed as an imperial cherry amber.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of NJpadreFan
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

River Horse- Imp. Cherry Amber Ale

A- Clear, light golden copper with a big fluffy head. Moderate lacing.
S- Buttery grainy malt with a touch of cherry.
T- Light sweet caramel malt with sunflower seeds. A nice cherry touch, not overpowering at all.
M- Light and sweet with the malt although there's a bit of a metallic feel on the tongue.

Overall- Looks, smells, and tastes quite nice but the aftertaste is too metallic.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I think the problem with this beer is that the name is misleading. It creates expectations that just aren't fulfilled.

Perhaps this is a case of printing the label before the beer was actually brewed and tasted...? Perhaps not. Maybe it's just too much "promo". Regardless, I think that most tasters would have been happier to buy an "Amber Ale with Cherries Added" that delivered what it promised than an "Imperial Cherry Amber Ale" that left them guessing.

I'm glad that I was able to find this on tap at the Devil's Den for $5 a pint rather than having spent the $8.49 that Canal's in NJ was asking for the bottle earlier that day while I was shopping. I really wanted to try it because it sounds great, but it was pricey... and then when I actually tasted it what I found was unimpressive.

It has a standard copper appearance with an average off-white head that holds OK before dropping but leaves only minor spotty lacing behind (note: that could have been due to a dirty glass at the bar).

The nose offers toasty, bready and caramelish malts but little more. I didn't find any noteable hops, and there was no real cherry other than a little bit of an off-aroma that was kind of medicinal. However, I doubt they intended it to have a cherry nose and wanted to focus on it in the flavor so what's there is probably just left-over from the extract.

Or is it fruit? I couldn't tell if there's real fruit in use, or extract, or a combination of the two, but cherry is an odd bird in that respect. What I did find didn't really come off as real though, so if it is there needs to be some re-working done.

The flavor was a let-down firstly because it just didn't offer the malt promised by an "Imperial" ale; but even the strength at 7% just barely cuts into that mark in my mind. I'd think 7.5% to 8.5%, or even 9% would be the mark. In the United States in 2008 at least. I was expecting malty sweetness threaded through with sharp and/or sweet cherries, but it's really more of a strong amber ale with some drizzled cherry flavor added in. AND THAT'S NOT A BAD THING, but it's just kind of not what you're expecting. I thought there'd be more of SOMETHING. The cherry doesn't even really make a mark. It's more like a blot or a stain. And although I certainly didn't expect any hops, I should note that I didn't really find any. Some grassy/citrusy suggestions in the back but that's it - probably as should be!

So, let's move forward from the negative. Drinkability! This beer on it's own, hedonistically (without any name or description attatched), was fairly enjoyable. It wasn't great, and it wasn't worth the price called for in the bottle but I had no qualms about laying down my standard-pint-cost for it. In fact, I actually considered having another one once it was in my mind as an "amber" ale and not something else.

So take it for what it's worth - decent beer, bad branding. I'd have another if the price was right!

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Photo of DavidSeanNJ
2.94/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Served into a pint glass...

A- Dark amber color with some ruby red tint. Creamy head with a ton of lacing going on. This is a pretty beer but unfortunatley the taste did not match the appearance...

S- Very faint dry cherry smell, caramel, and malt. No hops detected.

T- I was really expecting more in this department. Some earthy flavors, malt, and very little hop bite followed up with a dry/sour cherry aftertaste. Really nothing going on here. Imperial? Hmm. I think this one may have a tad bit more alcohol in it than other ambers, but the flavor department really needs work here.

M- Light/medium bodied. Silky going down, decent body.

D- The flavors wont overwhelm you, therefore you can drink several of these. However, this one just missed on many different points. Needs improvements for sure.

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Photo of KOPBeerDrinker
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass an amber color. 1" of off white fluffy head formed and quickly left.

Smells of sweet malts with a hint of cherry, not as much as one would guess by the name. Some hoppy notes come through.

Taste is pretty sweet and bready. Cherry comes through in the end, faintly.

Mouthfeel is thin, not much carbonation. Very easy to drink. Not a bad beer, but not great.

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Photo of tone77
3.68/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a cloudy brown color with some amber hues. Smell is of cherries and hops. Taste is good, again cherries with some hops, not overly sweet. Feels full bodied in the mouth and is very drinkable. Overall this is a good quality brew.

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Photo of bonbini26
3.73/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ the brewery

Appearance- pours a reddish amber and nicely carbonated. A small head settles and light lacing inside the glass

Smell- Some notes toasted malt, very light caramel, And the cherry, seems to be a sugary fake type

Taste - the malt is toasted with a rounded mix of caramel, but the sweetness that exists is promptly put to pasture by the extract-driven tinny bite of cherry. Alcohol is less pertinent here, but it is in play. The finish is reasonably crisp, but not especially clean or lingering.

Mouthfeel- Between light and medium bodied, it has a fairly slick feel, but the drop-off is abrupt

Drinkability- pretty easy, didnt seem like an imperial style of anything like they suggest. Its nice to see breweries trying to do something different every once in a while

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a crisp amber colour with a mid sized tan head that dissolves rather quickly but leaves a lot of residue on the glass.

The aroma hits you with a fair amount of malt: earthy and a bit dirty, with minimal to no sweet or cherry notes detected, and only a hint of somewhat grassy hops here and there.

Flavour is much like the aroma, but with a bit more cherry taste to it, mostly toward the finish of each sip, and it is quite tame and far from overpowering, which tends to be the case more often than not in a fruit flavoured beer. It was nice to see said cherry notes held back. There's also more of a bread vibe here as well. Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied with a bit of a sharp kick to each sip.

This isn't a bad brew overall. As mentioned, the cherry notes are kept to a minimum, which helps (to me) wit the overall flavour and presentation. There's no where near the cherry-bomb flavour of, say a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. Probably my least favourite of the three Brewer's Reserve Beers I've had (this is a really nice series overall so far), but still a winner nonetheless. Try it.

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Photo of HopBrain
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Ladybugger
4/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a cellar-temperature bottle into a standard pint glass. Color is amber-brown with a quickly-thinning off-white head. This beer leaves beautiful lacing along the glass as I drink. Smells hoppy with fruit tones and malt. Flavors include piney hops up front, and malt and dried fruits second, notably raisin and cherry. The fruit flavor is what lingers in the mouth, but this beer has a much richer mouthfeel than lighter, fruitier beers. Some carbonation is present. This beer tastes darker than it looks, and has a really nice balance of flavors. The bottle I poured has been in our cellar for about 5 months, and I recall the beer being fruitier with more identifiable cherry flavors when I first had a few. It's still a solid beer that I could have a few of.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.62/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single, twelve-ounce bottle just purchased from Gary's in Madison...
Following in the footsteps of Southern Tier's Imperial Cherry Saison, this New Jersey brewery put forth a bold sample of a Cherry amber ale...
Bottle specifically states a 7% ABV...
Pours a deep, dark, ruby red hue with a minimal head and a decent amount of lacing around the edge of the serving glass...
I could whiff the cherry aroma immediately after popping off the top, with slight hints of amber in the mix...
Taste was rather subtle and subdued, yet still refreshing and very drinkable for a 7% ABV... Slight hints of amber grains, heavy malts, nuances of cherry, sugars, and honey with a pretty good level of drinkability for a strong beer...
Interesting sample from River Horse...
Worth a shot...

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Photo of BWH3
2.83/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Light copper to deep orange. Thin beige head that runs away leaving little remnants. Still and clear.

S: Many a bland caramel malt with a faint hint of sweet cherry. Overall bland and too mild for words like reserve and limited edition.

T: Slightly better than the smell with a bit of fruity yeast finish capped by a dry hop earthy bitterness.

M: Flat and poor head retention

D: see my comments under the smell for my final verdict.

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Photo of jwc215
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish amber with a white head that settles to thin patches. Minimal dotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of sour cherries with a bready, caramelish undertone. Aroma seems to fade in and out.

The taste is of sweet and sour cherries that, oddly, fade in and out. Would be interesting, because the cherry quality is better than the typical American fruit beer "arificial" taste. The base is a decent, though a bit thin, amber - bready, caramelish, sweetness with some balancing earthy hop bitterness. Slight metallic notes also fade in and out. Finishes with a kiss of sour/tart.

Medium-bodied with mild to moderate carbonation that gives a surprizing late tingle.

Too bad for slight mettalic detractors, overall thinness (not sure I quite catch the "Imperial" other than the abv level - though alc. is reasonably well-covered. It does go in that direction, though, I suppose.) The cherries, like in the aroma, seem to get lost at times. This could be fine because it doesn't overwhelm and there's more going on, but that other "going on" seems to be a decent, but nothing particularly special, amber ale. Drinks easy enough, all things considered, but one or two are plenty. All-in-all, a good idea, certainly worth trying - was hoping to pair this one with plain cheesecake, hoping the cherries in the beer would act as the cherry topping, esp. as they do retain a trueness to them (seeing that it is an "Imperial cherry", but it doesn't go in that direction because cherries get lost, and the base beer wouldn't go...) - A decent beer that doesn't meet its potential for being better.

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Photo of marcpal
2.48/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I first sampled this one at the brewery in Lambertville several weeks back before bottling began and thought it tasted off but they may have been still reformulating.

Picked up a pack recently to give a good try given that RH has been doing a nice job with their stuff as of late and was hoping for the same.

12oz bottle poured into oversized red wine glass.

A: Auburn color, I see nil red. To my surprise a puffy head with average lacing and the foam showed the only red through with a bit of pink to it.

S: Fake cherry syrup smell. Just sugars up front and thats about it- missing any bitterness.

T: Sorry RH, but maybe you ought to stick to the Belgian styles which you have been dropping out solid stuff on lately. Flat, uncomfortable sweetness. Some tart sensitivity and left over taste of childrens tylenol.

M: Over carbonated and too thin. Really seemed like it was something in a bad bottle, but after 2 bottles and an effort on tap, no excuses left.

D: Just not enjoyable. I hope they revisit the chemistry in this one if they put it out again. Otherrwise, I welcome the next in the series.

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Photo of BuffaloTapHugger
3.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single poured into a pint glass. Color is a dark ruby hazy brown, head sticks around until finished and no lacing. Smells are of some granny smith apples, soil, some cherry, and malt. Taste is a little tart with a faint hint of cherry in the backdrop. Its very smooth with great carbonation, ABV is not noticed at all, its hidden somewhere in the bowels below. Its a drinkable brew, the mellowness of the cherry concept works for me. Nothing stellar in this beer though, recommended at own risk.

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Photo of woodychandler
2.75/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Another tip o' the Wood to my local trader, tone77, who is keeping me in bottles.

From the bottle: "Let's face it. Brewers get bored of making the same beers everyday. That's why we introduced our line of Limited Edition Beers. What's in this bottle is a unique brew conceived by our crack team of alchemist brewers and produced with painstaking care for the craft beer drinker in you."

My aggro pour created a foamy finger of tawny head with good retention. Color was a slightly hazy reddish-deep amber. Nose was very caramel malt sweet. I waited until 1500 (Local, EST) for my first sip as a toast to Don Younger, R.I.P. It was very malty with a slight sour cherry taste in the mouth. The mouthfeel was rather thin. The finish left me with an impression of cherries, but it was overall muted. I was not terribly impressed.

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Photo of Gavage
3.9/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear reddish orange in color with a long lasting two finger head. Mild lacing develops during the session.

Smell: caramel and soft cherry tones are all that is detected here.

Taste: caramel, mild cherry profile, some bits of honey, and mild bitterness are warmed with some softer alcohol tones.

Mouthfeel: lighlty crisp to start, smoother and a touch dry at the finish. Medium bodied. Flavors leave the mouth quickly.

Drinkability: nice flavored beer that may grow a bit tiring for some, but I like it. Alcohol levels kick this down a notch.

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Photo of Douglas88
3.4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A very interesting bottle from Thaichile. Pours a dark amber color with a medium tan head. The aroma was light hops, some caramel malt, and perhaps some sweet cherry. The flavor was fairly straightforward, but nice; some sweet malts, a large hop presence, not too bitter but flavorful, and some very light cherries. A very quaffable beer and no notice of alcohol. More like a Pale Ale than anything else really

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Photo of WesWes
3.03/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a dark amber/brown color with a towering offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. There are lots of floaties present. The aroma is average. It has a dry pale and roasted malt scent along with a fruity aroma that I assume is the cherries. The taste is average as well. It has a dry pale and roasted malt flavor along with a stale cherry character. It's tart and quite off putting. I'm not sure if this is an old beer or what, but there is something wrong here. The mouthfeel is average. It is a medium bodied beer with too much carbonation. This is a disappointing beer to say the least. The cherries really ruin the taste. It's one and done for me.

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Photo of ToasterChef
3.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a pint glass. The has a clear brown liquid body with a large tan foamy head. Because of the dark color of the beer, it is a little difficult to see the rising carbonation, but it is there. The aroma is made up of musty yeast and sweet cherry juice. The flavor is full of malty sweetness. There is a little bit of cherry, but nothing like a sour kriek. This is definitely an American fruit beer. There is a slight dry bitterness in the finish, but nothing significant. The body is very sticky and leaves lots of coating behind; it makes the beer feel kind of heavy. There isn't that much carbonation that I can feel. Because of the quality of the body, I don't find this brew all that drinkable. I feel like I need ot rinse my mouth out with water; sometimes that's a good quality, such as with a RIS, but I don't like it in my amber ales. Unless your a big fan of River Horse or fruit beers, I wouldn't go out of my way to try this one.

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Photo of albern
3.57/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is an entirely okay beer, but nothing special. The beer pours a nicely carbonated clear amber color with a smallish head that doesn't last long. Not much in the lacing either. The nose on the beer is a good dose of sweet malts, and there is some sweetish cherry popping through. You won't find much of the cherry in the taste, but it is there in the aroma. The nose is enticing and the high point.

The taste is a notch or two above average. This is a fairly sweet malty beer, with some very hard to detect floral notes, which must be the cherries. You can barely, if at all, detect the cherry presence. This is a light to medium bodied beer, with a fairly well balanced hop bitterness towards the finish. There is a lot of carbonation packed in this bottle. There are some caramel malts, and perhaps a touch of spiciness in the beer as well. This is a fairly unidimensional beer, that is very drinkable, but not overly memorable.

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Photo of YankChef
4.02/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into goblet

appearance: medium amber with bright red hues, nice topping white head that is thin

aroma: smells bright and vibrant, hoppy as well with some stone fruit to go along with the cherry

taste: This tastes like a red amber, sweet and juicy upfront with a nice balancing hop punch, I would say the hops dominate. Cherry beer? I dont know...

Overall: I mean its a pretty good beer, but as a cherry beer im not really getting it.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to jwc215 for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clean dark golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice little one-finger fizzy tan head, there is some nice sticky lacing afterwards. The nose is malty, with some cherry scent. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, with some nice cherry notes. Medium body, you would never thought this brew was 7.5 ABV, very well hidden. Drinkable, I like this one, thanks Joe.

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Photo of Foxman
3.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a reddish amber, perhaps even the vaunted "ruby" in places, and it's clear and nicely carbonated. A finger of beige head settles soon to wispy froth. Dashes of lacing perforate the inside of the glass.

In the aroma, there's a whisper of toasted malt, just barely speaking of caramel, as well as a biscuit note, but both are very distant. And the cherry, if indeed that's what it is, is metallic and flat, but there is something there, whatever it may be. Alcohol is soft but insistent.

Upon tasting, the malt is toasted with a rounded mix of caramel and bread dough, but the sweetness that exists is promptly put to pasture by the extract-driven tinny bite of cherry. And yes, it is cherry, but it's ephemeral, with more of an edgy bitterness than any real fruit character. Alcohol is less pertinent here, but it is in play. The finish is reasonably crisp, but not especially clean or lingering. The label had me expecting something that the beer inside the bottle didn't seem to be up to delivering.

Between light and medium bodied, it has a fairly slick feel, but the drop-off is abrupt and the dry embers glow a tad too brightly.

Like others have mentioned, the label sets some expectations that just aren't fully met, from Imperial to cherry to amber. Well, OK, maybe amber is on point, but the cherry isn't imperial, and the imperial isn't cherry, so it's a touch confused. On its own, free of those expectations, it would be fair enough to sit back and have a few, but the cost overshoots the delivery. I was a fan of the Double White, and this one at least shows a willingness to branch out yet a little more. I'm patient, so maybe the next one will come up big again.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.62/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up at Quick 6 on Mt Rose Ave in York. poured chilled from the 12oz into a tulip pint.

A- A hazed reddish amber w/ a 3 finger cap of off white which makes sticky lace on the glass. The bead is fine and head is rocky

S - The aroma is fruity, woody and slightly tannic w/ mildly acidic ester w/ subtle alcohol note

M - A light body for the strength, a bit thin w/ moderate carbonation and gentle bitterness w/ a subtle tinge of fruit tanginess and light biterness

T - The flavor of the malt is sligthly grainy w/ a fruity yeast taste accenting and pretty dry cherry skin essence. The beer has a mild dried apricot - stone fruit tinge, but the amber malt flavor is more dominant w/ a light grainy taste and mellow yeast which contributes only slightly to the flavor. There is a mild toasted element in the finish

D - This beer doesn't come across as imperial in taste which is good, but it is a bit dry for the style and the cherry element isn't enough to warrant the name IMO

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Imperial Cherry Amber Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.34 out of 5 with 46 ratings