River Horse Special Ale | River Horse Brewing Co.

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River Horse Special AleRiver Horse Special Ale

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

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A variety of specialty malts are the backbone of this American Amber Ale; a perfect session beer.

Added by rfgetz on 09-22-2010

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Reviews: 43 | Ratings: 215
Photo of Jacobob10
3.54/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

No date on the bottle, purchased from the brewery.

Dark amber color and hazy. Average white head on top that sticks around for a while. Caramel and toasted malts, a bit of toffee. Mild herbal hops. Sweet malt flavor without being too rich. Medium bodied. Good flavor but nothing overly exciting.

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Photo of Urk1127
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Deep dark red. Floaties everywhere but its unfiltered. Good lacing
Toast, chocolate, toffee, bit of funk
Little bit of pine, rye bread, toasty malts, maybe some coffee grinds
Smooth, lower carbonation but it fits well, drys your mouth, a tad of bitterness

Enjoyable. I find myself taking fast sips and i finished half of it in the minute it took for this review. Very flavorful. I've put off this beer and brewery for too long. i was missing out.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.19/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

L - medium-dark amber color. Hazy/cloudy hue with light coming through nicely. Big and durable head with tight lacing around the glass. Nice layer of foam on top as well, even after a few sips.

S - Caramel, chocolate, coffee, malty aroma. Little bit of hop presence at the end but for the most part medium dark malts, consistent with the style.

T - Caramel from the start, toffee/chocolate midtone, fruity apple finish.

F - Crisp and clean like a pilsner. Light in body. Not syrupy but definitely like a lager and not much of an ale.

O - I got this from a sales rep for River Horse when he was at my store. Very good amber ale. There is not much body to it like Fat Tire which I feel like could make it better to give it that syrupy caramel feel, but very drinkable and tasty. I am not sure if they are making this anymore, but this would be an awesome Christmas beer with some spice. River Horse did not disappoint once again! Cheers!

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Photo of mbender92
4.26/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Tastes better than any macro-brew or micro-brew that I've had so far in my opinion. It's a delicious beer, especially considering the fact that it's brewed in New Jersey. It comes in a glass bottle with a pretty typical micro-brew label stating that it's an american amber. At 5.5% abv (incorrectly stated in the beeradvocate description) this beer could pass as tasting like a 4.2 - yet still comes with the kick of a 5.5% beverage.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
3.71/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Pours deep cloudy amber, medium foamy head with good retention, lace. Sweet malty aroma with a tad of cinnamon spice. Tastes of sweet caramel malt with mild bitterness and spice on the end. Medium soft mouthfeel. Overall tasty amber ale, mostly on the sweet side.

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Photo of ARoman
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 1.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a shaker. The aroma is distinctly raisin cinnamon bread with a toffee undertone and peanut butter coming in late. It's a murky, unfiltered raisin brown color with a khaki head that has okay retain and only a light lace. It's a medium high sweet and light bitter blend. The texture is a a light syrup with a fuzzy carbonation and medium full body. Roasted flavors are picked up with tones of toffee, toasted bread, grains, and nuts. The finish is roasty and grainy with a driness and a light astringent quality. The aftertaste is grains, and lightly toffee.

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Photo of CochonKing
3.33/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark amber with little to no head and a large amount of disproportionation. Smell is malt forward with notes of caramel in the back ground, as well as notes of lemon and orange rind, with coffee notes on the back end of the bite. The taste is ok, with forward dark roasted malt and some mild chocolate notes, but nothing really pops beyond that. Some acidity is present on the rear palate. Mouthfeel is light bodied with small crisp bubbles.

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Photo of Samp01
3.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy brownish amber with a medium beige lasting head, some light lacing. Aroma of toasted caramel malt, barley, light fruity notes. Taste of toasted caramel malt, yeast, light fruity with some mild earthy hops. Palate isa medium body, slightly sticky mouth feel, mild carbonation. Finish is sweet toasted caramel malt, yeast with some mild earthy hops bitterness for balance with a bit of caramel nutty aftertaste. Overall a good enjoyable brew.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a hazy copper/mahogany color with a two finger cream colored head. The head has a great level of retention, holding on for quite some time, fading slowly to leave a good level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma is mainly of a lightly roasted malt smell mixed with a decent showing of caramel and some toffee. Along with these aromas so too comes a tiny bit of dark fruit, which overall creates a rather sweet aroma.

Taste – The taste begins with a lightly roasted malt flavor and some fruit flavors of apple. A caramel sweetness is present upfront as well, with it slowly fading throughout most of the taste. More toward the middle, with the caramel fading some, come some flavor of a more bitter hop nature. They are mainly of an earthy and herbal flavor and remain relatively light till the end. While the caramel faded steadily from the beginning it picks up again at the end, and when mixed with the rest of the flavors, it leaves a nice easy going taste of a bready caramel and light hop to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is average in terms of its creaminess and thickness with a carbonation level that is average as well.

Overall – A nice drinking brew, but overall nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.6/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a medium dark and cloudy mahogany brown with lots of suspended particles and a 3/8 inch head that rapidly fades to a thin layer.
S - Slightly malty hints of caramel
T - A nice balance of bitterness fading to a sweet finish
M - Medium to full bodied
0 - That's Special .... although I can not tell if it's Dana Carvey's or George Carlin's voice that I hear this beer in.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

River Horse variety pack. Twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours medium dark brown, some red hints. Some white foam. Strong caramel smell. Toffee. Taste is alight sweet caramel with a modest bite. Hints of butterscotch. Light mouthfeel from the modest carbonation. Good amber.

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Photo of Act25
3.44/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Re-reviewed, got a better bottle 2nd and 3rd try. But each one different, so I continue to distrust this brewer for consistency. I only get River Horse in WFM mystery craft packs, which at 11.69 for 12 with case discount are an outstanding price even if you need to trade or give 2 of 12 away. I just bring the ones I dont like to parties or events. Hence, river horse and St Johns always get given away along with most veggie / pumpkin beers.

A: Pours an OK head with good retention. This one laces very well. The beer is a hazy, almost muddy, cola dark amber, mahogany, with low visible carbonation. Not that inviting a color.

S: The appearance and the nose are the best parts.
Toasty, moderate aromas of malts and earthy yeast. Rich. Almost root- beer like.

T: The taste has flavors of caramel and toasted malts along with earthy yeast. A light amount of bitterness is present. The earthiness lingers through the finish, almost too much so. Not refreshing or tingly enough.

M: Smooth, creamy feel, medium bodied. Solid.

O: Good pale ale. Must try. Creamy, Very complex and flavorful, but one bottle was not fresh tasting.
2nd bottle (months later was much better) 3rd bottle split the difference, and in the end was too sweet and too much like a root beer.

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Photo of Huffs
4.37/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured to a nice, dense biscuit colored head which laced well and lasted. Appearance was a hazy with a reddish / amber color. Aroma was grainy with hints of malt, fruit and grass. Taste was of a strong malt and caramel front and finishing with a hoppy bitterness, kind of a grain finish. Mouthfeel was medium and carbonated. Aftertaste was dry and bitter. I liked this beer a lot, one of the best amber lagers I've had.

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Photo of metter98
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is slightly hazy and a dark shade of amber in color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige colored head that has very good retention properties and left a short head covering the surface and lots of lacy rings of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of toasted malts and earthy yeast are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of caramel and toasted malts along with earthy yeast. A light amount of bitterness is present. The earthiness lingers through the finish.
M: It feels a bit shy of being medium-bodied on the palate with a little smoothness and a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: I liked the malty nature of this beer because there were just enough hops to help balance this off and keep things drinkable. It's pretty tasty for a beer with a low abv.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into my New England Brewing Co. tulip.

River Horse's Amber Ale pours a dark mahogany, more brown ale like in color. Some amber highlights are appreciable though. Just over two fingers of very light tan colored foam fill the glass, threatening to spill out. Head retention is above average, and rings of lacing are left encircling the glass. The nose has a good bit of biscuit to it, joined by a little caramel. There's a definite herbal and floral hop aroma as well. The flavor follows that same blueprint pretty faithfully. Lots of biscuity malts upfront, joined by just a little bit of caramel sweetness. The bitterness that follows is noticeable, but not abrasive. The hop character in the finish is decidedly English, very earthy and herbal. The body is firm, but not overbearing. The carbonation though is a bit dull, making the mouthfeel come across as a little flat. River Horse Amber Ale is a pretty good beer, maybe my favorite so far that I've had from them.

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Photo of GiantMidget
2.6/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Another of a variety pack of River Horse, been in my fridge for about 2 weeks now.

In a pint glass, the head maybe 2 fingers, below average lacing.

There is really nothing that differentiates this from many other amber's that I've tried.
Typical smell of a floral and slight citrus nature.

Balanced malt flavor, nothing too extraordinary. I almost detect some sort of medicinal aftertaste like I had just drank some nighttime medicine or something.

Very low ABV, which would make it nice on a warm day to throw a few back, however I would not jump at this at the top of my list.

I will also say that the mouthfeel was not one I enjoyed very much. Very high carbonation leaving a full bodied almost burning feel when lingering.

Some enjoy this type of amber so I wouldn't deter those for trying it but again, not my beer of choice.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy dark amber with one-finger, off-white, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Roasted malt and earthy hops. Mild.

T: Light to moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Roasted malt with a little bit of hops.

M: Medium bodied with fizzy carbonation.

O: The beer looks nice, but nothing stands out.

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Photo of JayQue
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fairly Average Amber Ale. Looks great and has a low abv. WOuld be a worthy session beer.

Pours a dark amber color with a huge antique white head. Excellent retention and thick lacing. Looks good.

Ok aroma....roasted and sweet malts. A little floral hops.

Mostly a malty beer but there is some balancing hoppiness and a floral aspect.A little on the sweet side but tastes ok.

A little light, but this is expected from a 4.5% beer.

This isn't one to savor, but a few pitchers t a session would be welcome.

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Photo of claspada
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red with a very large off white head with good retention.

Aromas begin with sweet pale malt and some light caramel. As it warms you get some slight brown sugar, roasted malt with a bit of earthy hoppiness.

The tastes follow the nose with light caramel, toasted bready maltiness with some light toffee flavors as well. Light and clean earthy hoppiness emerges more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is light bodied with medium to high carbonation. Finish is lightly dry and earthy but mainly clean and crisp.

Overall this is a decent, flavorful and balanced amber ale. Nothing to mind-blowing but quite satifying considering the ABV, nice daytime outdoors beer.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.15/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Actually quite clear since most of their beers are "unfiltered" with a 1/4 inch of opaque colored head. A touch darker than I expected for the ABV.

S - Slightly dirty malts clash with mild hops and mild caramel malts. Smell is less than expected.

T - Well it's not a bad amber it's just not that great. Hops are mildly herbal almost citrus like with a caramel base. Basic and boring.

M - Light to medium it's on par for the ABV.

Overall I am becoming more disappointed with this brewery every beer. Don't buy this if you can avoid it.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-dark amber color with a nice thick white head and decent lacing

S-malts and caramel, slight floral scent

T-roasted malts and caramel sweetness with a little hop character, not much bitter flavor

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, smooth

O-an OK amber but too sweet and malty and not enough hop character for my taste

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Photo of jtierney89
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep auburn hue with dark ruby highlights and a big off white head. Good lacing. Lots of roasted malts on the nose along with some burnt caramel. Hop presence is faint but perfumey. On the lighter side of medium in body which thins very slightly on the swallow. Sweet caramel laces the side of the tongue while lightly roasted malts shine through from beginning to end. Subtle amount of fruit with a faint hop presence giving the beer it's crisp feel and smooth finish.

Pretty Decent flavor with great drink-ability. Not anything amazing but good for what it is. A session brew I could come back to.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up in Totowa since I hadn't had a chance to give this a go. While I love American Ambers/Red Ales this was a slightly above average beer and didn't have any qualities to it that would make it stand out. It was relatively easy to drink, but most of that was because the alcohol was weaker than I anticipated.

By far, the best aspect to this beer was the head. It was just like that of a root beer float and lasted for a while. It wasn't repeated in the lacing and the aroma was pretty unmemorable. Like so many of their other offerings, this had a strong amount of Belgian Sugar in the smell and taste with some dirty earthiness on top of it. The hops didn't come out until the aftertaste and they were also quite earthy and funky. Just a hint of brown sugar could be found here too, but by no means was this sweet.

Between the low alcoholic content of this and the somewhat easy drinkability of this beer, there wouldn't be too many people who couldn't give this a go. With so many beers of this style available on the shelf, this wouldn't be the first I'd reach for nor would I not have it again. It's nicely crafted and unpretentious, in the same fashion as the other River Horse beers that I've enjoyed.

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Photo of facundoCNB
2.88/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - a somewhat flat pour, some bubbling and slight showing of head. cloudy deep red in color

S - smells of honey, mushrooms and dirt

T - very mellow on the palate, slight sweetness and a slight hint of humidity.. a fungus of sort?

M - very refreshing, sweet finish makes you want more

O - not the brewery's best, but a good session ale. tastes and smells are odd enough to fulfill any curiosities.

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Photo of Sharkophile
4.03/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a River Horse variety pack, which I was very happy with.

A: Poured into a pint glass. Pours a dark red with a very large off white head with good retention.

S: Smells sweet, with caramel, brown sugar and roasted malts with a bit of hoppiness.

T: Caramel and brown sugar with some roasted coffee-like flavors as well. Light and clean hoppiness leads into a pretty dry finish.

M: Pretty light bodied and highly carbonated. Prickly. Nice.

O: A very good, flavorful and balanced amber ale, I wish I could find it in six packs, I could have a bunch of these at a time.

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River Horse Special Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 215 ratings.
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