River Horse Special Ale – ESB

River Horse Beer Special Ale – ESB

64 Blade Chainsaw

River Horse Special Ale ESB is a River Horse beer from the River Horse Brewery in Lambertville, New Jersey. The River Horse brewery doesn’t appear to like giving away thier hop varieties online, but from tasting and understanding their approach, this beer might be hopped with a blend of multiple English hops for some good hop notes without an overwhelming bitterness. They do claim brewing this River Horse beer with lots of Caramel and Carapils Malts for an alcohol content of 4.5% ABV.

River Horse Special Ale ESB

The River Horse brewery is a recent resident to Lambertville, New Jersey just a short distance from the Pennsylvania border and Delaware Water Gap, but have been brewing craft beers since 1996. This River Horse beer Special Ale ESB is the brewery’s flagship brew and they lay claim to keeping the original composition and recipe since their first batch in 1996.

Onto The Method

5.5/10 – The Classic

1.0 – Appearance – A moderate serve pours a dark and hazy copper with wild carbonation that forms a crazy, living foamy head that disappears quickly into nothingness.

1.5 – Aroma – Some good and strong hop notes cling onto the nose followed by a delicate sweet roasted barley blend.

1.5 – Taste – A well complimented sweet malt disposition and hop character satisfies the senses while laying claim to a sRiver Horse Special Ale ESBoft and welcoming aftertaste.

0.5 – Palate – At first seemingly crisp, loose grains throughout the body emphasize the beer’s ugly sediment. Continued serves displayed crusted mud at the base of the bottle and several throughout the beer. Smooth serving and allowing the beer the opportunity to sit helps, but once the image is implanted in the brain, you can feel and taste it in the body.

1.0 – Overall – This River Horse beer has some elements that make it appealing; good hop notes and a healthy malt construction – but too much muddy sediment along with a flat appearance challenges this brew’s strong points.


5.0/10 Blades – The Hammer – the booze – A pretty weak 4.5% eventually rises to its purpose during the session through a continued serving and drinking frenzy.

8.0/10 Blades – The Knife –digestibility –Paired with some regrettable junk food and an odd indie film, this beer proved easy on the stomach which allowed for good delivery of its weak alcohol profile.

6.5/10 Blades – The Spider – the lift – A soft and smooth rise commences somewhere during the second and well into the third. While never fully accomplishing a euphoric rise, it plateaus well after the fifth serve.

9.0/10 Blades – The Motor –can you handle it? – A low alcohol content, minimal consequence on the system and a mild lift make it easy to ride through the end of the six pack and actually follow and understand an odd character-line indie film.

The Chainsaw

30/50 Blades – The Buzz – Special Ale ESB is a River Horse beer that, according to the brewery’s literature, hasn’t changed since its original creation in 1996. It’s tough to call attention to that quality since this beer could use some major improvements. Filtering much of the sediment would be helpful and increasing the alcohol content some would be nice. I wouldn’t mind its flat appearance otherwise, but those crusted sediment chunks give me the creeps.

Beyond that, some attention could be placed on its strong points to elevate them further – crisp out the hop profile and don’t be afraid to showcase the selection and bitterness units.; It may be an ESB, but if highlighted well, laying claim to a modest yet well built hop persona would be beneficial.

On the other hand, its malt foundation is quite solid and flavorfully built and really adds a special sweetness and an enjoyable drink. Given some slight adjustments, this could be one fine River Horse beer.

The lift is mild and comes on slowly after several brews, making it an easy session beer if you want a nice brew that won’t get you hammered. It’s light on the body, smooth on the rise and easy to finish, you just have to get past that awful crusted sediment.

River Horse Special Ale ESB