Archive for the 'River Horse' category
“Smells like a buttermilk biscuit” -Matt
I really don’t feel the need to say much after Matt’s short and fairly accurate review because, frankly, this does smell kinda like a buttermilk biscuit. It’s because of all the malt. As I’ve said before, these River Horse brews are all malt-forward. And, given that an ESB is typically pretty malty anyway, this thing is just a regular malt bomb. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tasty – but the sweetness is almost overbearing and the richness is more than you typically expect from an ESB, so go into it with those expectations. Honestly, this is as close to a dessert beer that I’ve found in this genre. It’s really quite decadent, and that’s about all I have to say about it. If you’re into smooth mouthfeels and rich, sweet-bread flavors, then you’ll dig this beer. And, hey, there’s also a fair dose of hops in here, if you’re into that. On top of all that, the dark ruby color is very pretty and, as Matt established, there’s a very rich aroma to work with.
Okay, I’m beginning to sense a theme with the River Horse beers – they are all malt-forward beers. At least, the River Horse beers I’ve had thus far have been malt-bombs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed every River Horse brew I’ve had, including this lager, but I’m beginning to be a bit skeptical. And, I fear that the ESB I still have waiting in the fridge is liable to have the same issue. But, I’m gonna give these guys the benefit of the doubt – none of the beers have been overly malty. Rather, it’s just been a notable characteristic – moreso than I’m generally accustomed to.
This beer pours a faded gold color and smells, well, malty – there’s some sweetness, and some breadiness to it. In the mouth, you’ll find a lot of sweetness – more than usual in a lager. I’m a big fan of some of the Canadian lagers like Moosehead, and this bears no resemblance. It’s good in a decadent fashion – it’s very sweet and the aftertaste is slightly syrupy in the throat. Furthermore, this foregoes some of the refreshing characteristics of most lagers. I wouldn’t place this as a thirst-quencher on a summer day. Rather, I think it’s more of a beer to be savored slowly and perhaps as a light digestif. So, bottom line is that this is pretty good, but different than I expected. I’d be interested to hear what other lager fans think about this one.
How many good breweries can you think of in New Jersey, seriously? The only thing I can think of is that big god-forsaken Anheuser-Busch plant that I always passed on the way from Newark to Hoboken when I once lived there (I’m trying to give you guys small hints about my life so that, post-humously, one of you can put together a very brief biography of me). There might be other good breweries in Jersey – if so, I’d love to be reminded of them. What I’m getting at is that River Horse is based in Jersey, and that’s a novelty to me. Furthermore, River Horse makes some excellent beers, which is another plus.
The River Horse tripel pours a ruby red; this brew is quite dense – so dense, in fact, that the bubbles from the ‘nucleation site’ on my new Boston Beauty glasses rise oh-so-slowly through the liquid. The aroma of this is much wilder than most tripels. In fact, it is almost reminiscent of a flemish sour ale – quite biting on the nostril really. But, don’t get me wrong, it’s really quite pleasing – I like it when a brew can give my nose something to talk about. The flavor of this is also quite novel, and in a good way. Most tripels have a nice rock-candi sweetness, which I love, and a decent alcohol bite. But, this tripel has a lot more going on. There is a nice sweetness to this, but this sweetness is also joined by a solid malt backbone and a spicy flavor of cinnamon and a bit of clove. These flavors tickle the tastebuds at different points of the mouth, but the aftertaste is an interesting combination of the bunch, with a solid amount of the spice that almost gives this brew a ‘holiday’ feel. So, this is a bit of a divergence from your standard tripel, but son-a-mighty it’s good. I’ll have to give this one of my highest marks for an American tripel, and great marks for New Jersey. It’s an extremely tasty brew with a complexity that is rare to find in any tripel. I feel like they’re taking some liberties to get away from a pure tripel in the Belgian sense. But, if they can do that while still making a brew this tasty, then cheers to innovation!
Now, when you hear a name like “Hop Hazard” tossed around, you expect an IPA (well, at least I do), or at least a beer with some serious hops going on. However, I really don’t think that this is that beer. Nevertheless, let’s let these folks name the beer what they want, and I’ll just drink it.
This beer pours a relatively clear dark golden with an aroma of very sweet bread, almost pancake-like. Honestly, in the mouth, this beer even tastes slightly pancake-like. I don’t get very much hop out of this. Rather, I get an intense sweet-bread flavor that last from the tip of the tongue to the aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a pretty tasty beer. However, it’s not a ‘hop hazard’ and I don’t reckon it should be marketed as such. While I think River Horse has put out another quality brew, I think they were premature with their labeling. Oh well, a good beer is still a good beer, regardless what name you slap on it.