River Horse Brewing Company - Special Ale
- ABV: 5.5%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 24
- Serving Temperature: 47-54° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
- Malts: Pilsen, Munich, Caramel 15, 60, and 80, Cara-Pilsen, Aromatic, Chocolate
- Hops: Nugget, Cascade, Columbus
Pouring a very deep, rich, hazy, brownish-amber color, it’s quite dark for an amber ale and looks great topped by its robust head of lasting foam. On the nose, look for big notes of lush caramel malts, mild hay and toast, and a touch of graham cracker, all overlaid with earthy and floral hop overtones. In the flavor department, those toasty and slightly nutty caramel malts build a delicious core. Most of River Horse’s beers are bottled unfiltered, which we like, as it tends to lend a bit more body. That’s certainly the case here; expect a creamy and round mouthfeel as it opens across the palate. Mild residual sweetness is matched perfectly by earthy and somewhat herbal hops, which usher in moderate bitterness. Built with a complex assortment of malts, this is one of the better ambers we’ve sampled recently. At one point a 4.5% ABV beer, the newer recipe has been bumped up to 5.5%, and we’re big fans. Pair with grilled meats, particularly pork, or even roasted chicken or turkey with gravy. Allow this one to warm with a few minutes out of the fridge before serving. Cheers!
When it opened for business in 1996, River Horse Brewing Company was at the vanguard of New Jersey’s craft brewing renaissance. Founded by two homebrewing brothers in Lambertville, NJ, on the Delaware River, River Horse was named in reference to the hippopotamus, an animal whose name is derived from the Greek words for “horse of the river.” Thus, the hippo features whimsically in all of the brewery’s logos and beer label artwork.
In 2007, the original founders passed control of the brewery to current owners Chris Walsh and Glenn Bernabeo who had desired to leave their desk jobs for something with a bit more passion. In their words, “We were finance geeks living in a world without soul. Grinding it out everyday for a fee, wearing suits and kissing butt.” Since taking over ownership, the new duo has met much success, and by 2013 demand had reached the point that the original Lambertville location was just not working. That summer, River Horse moved their operations to a new facility in Ewing which is large enough to handle production of as much as 80,000 barrels per year – far above the 9500 they had been topping out at in Lambertville.
River Horse currently produces five year-round beers as well as eight seasonals, three “Brewer’s Reserve Series” beers, and three “Barrel Aged Series” beers in waxed-dipped 750ml bottles. For more info about the brewery and tour schedules, contact them at (609) 883-0890 or visit www.riverhorse.com.
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