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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: 212
Photo of B967ierhunter177
2.91/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear dark copper with a thin head and lace. The aroma is sweet malt and bread. The flavor is the three Rs, raisins, root beer, and rum. A bit of cough medicine in the finish but not bad. It's mouthfeel is medium. River Horse Special Ale Amber is a good beer. Recommended.

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Photo of Amalak
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had off the tap at Wicked Monks in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Nice deep red/brown color. Thick foamy, off-white head which leaves a good deal of lacing. Very slight malty scent.

This has a very pleasant nutty taste. A slight bit of chocolate. Some bitter hops, but slight. There's a soapy aftertaste in there. A slight sweetness. It's a dry taste, almost like a cask.

Nicely complex with nothing overbearing.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.41/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a red/crimson color. Good head. Off-white and compact. Leaves a ton of lacing. Beer is transparent.

S-A light nose. Sweet with mellow hops. Sweet caramel. Doesn't smell like it will be a very hoppy Amber. I absolutely love hoppy Ambers. This one seems like it will be a sweeter take on the style.

T-More sweet than hoppy. Hops are slight. Light hop flavors of grass and flowers. Mostly sweet. Light bitterness. Sweet caramel. Mellow flavor.

M-Lively carbonation. Medium to lighter body. Very light bitterness.

O/D-Okay beer. Not memorable. Easy to drink, but hard to savor. Just a middle of the road beer.

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Photo of TheBigBoy
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Solid Brew...Have had several River Horse's over the years with mixed results. By far this is the best beer that I've had from this brewery.

Good Amber/Red beer flavor that's slightly crafty but not overpowering at all. COuld not drink these all night but definitley 2-3 not a problem.

Do give this one a try, if tasty amber/red beers are your thing. You will be happy with this one.

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Photo of forcedlaughter
4.05/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color. Small head sticks around and has a creamy texture.

I get caramel, and a sweetness like apple juice on the nose.

The taste follows. A really easy to drink, nice tasting, sweet beer. I get the malt up front, followed by apple juice and brown sugar.

Mouthfeel is nice. It coats my mouth and doesn't have any off flavors so the drinkability is high as well. For 4.5%, I could easily drink a few, and I would not get tired of the taste.

There are far better ambers out there, but this is a great value around me.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into fluted pint glass, nice tan head, pretty thick at first, dissipates to nice froth on the top, a little clinging. Color is a dark, deep amber, somewhat dense.

Smell is mild, sweet malt comes through hints at some moderate bitterness.

Taste is a nice mix of roasted and caramel malts, with a very nice citrus/pine bitterness that cleans it up.

Mouthfeel is mostly on the tongue, flavors cling to the top but sweet and bitter balance well with mild carbonation.

Overall, a very nicely done brew, solid malt flavors and hop bitterness.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is the last bottle I picked up as part of a sampler pack from the brewery in Lambertville -poured from the chilled 12oz into a double walled tumber.

The amber has good deep ruby color which borders on bronze with a translucent clarity and 3 fingers of rocky ecru which settle to a 1/4 inch. The lace collection on the glass is good with a fine bead. The smell is good, which is a mix of hops that have a herbal and pine blend of scents and some light sweetness from the malt with a mellow ester of yeast fruitiness in the nose with a subtle toasted toffee-like aroma. The feel is very moderately bitter within style and standard carbonation with mild sweet entry and balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness is good with some subtle diacetyl and semi-dry finish with light cream and toasted accent.

This amber tastes malty up front with subtle toasted tinges and slight caramel notes which fade into a slight sweet relaxed taste and the hops come secondary with some light herbal/pine flavors which accent the yeast and malt well. The hops keep things balanced but don't move into the flavor realm much more than bitter with slight diacetyl in the background which is countered by slight pepper and mild fruit elements from the yeast. This is a good amber over all, not one I would revisit but nothing seriously flawed about it either. It might be good for a cookout to have on hand - a little on the sweet side as it finishes and could use a little more complexity in the malt and yeast but in general I liked it and it is better than average.

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

My thanks to tone 77 for coming by with a buncha bottles for me to try. It is nice to have someone local with whom to trade.

From the bottle: "Many of us here in the U.S. of A. consider ourselves to be "Special". We think this American Amber is pretty Special as well. Hope you enjoy it!"

I enjoyed pouring it into my glass and watching a dense finger of light-tan head being produced and experiencing decent retention at the outset of yet another sweltering afternoon. I also enjoyed gazing at its reddish-amber color with NE-quality clarity. I further enjoyed the pleasant admixture of grass hops and caramel malts on the nose. I gained enjoyment from its medium-to-full mouthfeel (not quite creamy, but close) and its taste with a seeming emphasis on hops. Finally, I enjoyed the extreme finish, which is when the malt really came into play. I had not tasted it much until then, but it lingered well after the swallow. Overall, an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of tone77
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a pretty dark amber color with a small head. Smell is of malts, some hops. Taste is the same, some malts up front with hops kicking in at the end, a touch of caramel is present. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall makes for a solid offering.

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Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as part of a mix/match 6pk from The Beer Store in Southampton, PA. Price averaged out to $2.50/bottle.

Enjoyed in a DFH Signature Glass.

A - Pours a rather dark amber color with a one finger head that dissipates rather quickly. A very slight amount of lacing is left after drinking.

S - A very light sweet smell (malts). No hop smell at all. Not an overwhelming impression can be drawn from the aroma.

T - A very malty, slightly tangy taste. The presence of hops is no where to be found. Not a bad taste at all.

M - More on the thin, watery side. As mentioned, a tangy after taste lingers after drinking.

D - Not a bad beer. For an ale, I actually like it. You could easily drink a few of these since it is not a very heavy beer.

Overall: A decent beer that was worth a try. Would I purchase again? Probably not since I'm more of a hop head. Would I have a problem drinking it again? Not at all...it'is a nice departure from my normal beers. Give it a try.


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Photo of snegopady
4.2/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I'm not going to claim that the Special Ale is world-class or anything silly like that. But what other reviewers see as a defect, I see as this beer's best feature. Sometimes--often--daily--I crave a malty beer that isn't hopped to the gills. And that's what this beer is all about--loads and loads of tasty, tasty malt. Not for everyone, apparently, but if you're a weirdo like me who likes his malt and wants it now, you could do whole a lot worse.

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

A: deep amber red, almost brown in color. rich 1 finger head died down before i could take my first sip. a little hazy, perhaps this one is unflitered, with tiny carbonation bubbles racing to the surface.

S: toasty sweet malts. caramel and brown sugar. not getting much hops with this one.

T: sweet, tangy malt with hops used more for balance rather than flavor. finishes with a bitter linger, caused more from some roasted malt rather than hops. if this is in fact unfiltered, not getting much from the yeast here. this one is all malt.

M: a solid medium body made up entirely of malt. good carbonation.

D: if im looking for a sweet brew, i could drink one of these. otherwise, not really gonna be craving one of these.

granted i like my reds much hoppier than this, i still feel like this brew is far too one dimensional. in my opinion this recipe could use some tweaking in the hop department.

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Photo of jman42
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A = Very nice looking red color with a nice light brown head. Lacing was pretty apparent

S = Nice malt aroma, barely noticeable hops

T = Nice malty taste. Again, hops were not overly apparent. Bit of a bitter after taste

M = Average

D = A nice red ale (unless you're looking for a hoppy one). Seems to look better than it drinks though. Still, I'd recommend to friends who aren't hopheads.

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Photo of tigg924
3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: minimal head, hazy, dark amber in color, high carbonation

Smell: toasted malt and some pine hops

Taste: caramel, toasted malt and some pine hops

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, medium carbonation, sweet with a slightly bitter backbone

Drinkability: A decent amber that could use a bit more hops. Not bad, but nothing that really jumps out and makes me want another either.

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Photo of taigor
3.81/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into mug glass.

A - Poured slightly hazy amber red color with light head that dissipated very quickly leaving almost no lacing at all.

S - Strong smell of malts and caramel with citrus hints.

T - Very sweet to start, malts and caramel with brown sugar followed by slight hoppy bitterness and a dry finish.

M - Light bodied with medium carbonation.

D - Very simple and enjoyable red ale. Would recommend it but dont go out of the way to get it.

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Photo of jsanford
3.62/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Extra received from THECPJ. Thanks! Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a slightly hazy amber with a thin white head that quickly recedes to a ring.
S - Strong caramel malt with a bit of pine and citrus.
T - More sweet caramel malt with a faint nuttiness. Earthy hops provide some balance, but the malt dominates.
M - Medium-light bodied with crisp carbonation.
D - Pretty quaffable. Tasty, if a bit bland.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.31/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, courtesy of a non-BA rugby teammate of mine, into a Duvel tulip.

A: A fairly rough, careless pour produces a perfect two-finger head of tight tan foam above a clear dark amber body. Average retention and some spotty lacing. Maybe not as lace-heavy as I'd like, but a great looking beer nonetheless.

S: Fairly light aroma of slightly toasty caramel malt. Maybe a little nutty as well. Quite restrained, but entirely inoffensive.

T: Follows the nose precisely in its lack of complexity, although it does deliver considerably more intensity. This is actually a bit of a problem for me, as there aren't nearly enough hops to balance out the single-minded maltiness of this beer. The flavor isn't bad at all, but it gets remarkably cloying for a sub-5% brew. What bitterness there is seems to come from the lightly toasted edge of the up-front malts; on the finish, there's nothing but malt sweetness. A little out of whack, but not too bad.

M: Light-to-medium body with a moderate dose of sharp carbonation. About what I expected, and decently lively, but not terribly pleasant.

D: For the style, it's pretty good. For the nigh-sessionable ABV, it really isn't. I've had many 6% beers that were easier to quaff.

Notes: This tastes right on the borderline between an amber ale and an ESB, which apparently it used to be called. I'm not sure which designation does it more justice, actually. It's not really hoppy enough for either, which is a disappointment. Still, not a bad one to try if you're into beers that pack a good deal of flavor into a low-ABV package.


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Photo of rfgetz
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with minimal cap of white head. Scent is of weak carmel malts with a decent fresh pine and citrus hop note. Taste is a little better than scent dictates, decent light carmel matls combine with piney and citrus hops to form a decent, uncomplicated beer. Lighter side of medium bodied, moderately high carbonation. A decent beer, unspectacular yet drinkable.

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River Horse Special Ale from River Horse Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 212 ratings.
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