Friday, July 8, 2011

River Horse Hop Hazard and Tripel Horse

I'm wearing my Devils jersey because this is the first time I've ever reviewed (or drank for that matter) a beer from New Jersey! I got these two beers by the River Horse Brewing Company when I was at Ashley "The Beer Wench" Routson's party last month. It'll be interesting to see what a brewery from the Garden State can do with an American pale ale style and a Belgian tripel.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUL 7, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a Canadian pint glass.

Appearance: One of the dirtiest/ugliest pale ales I’ve ever seen: murky, hazy body with a brown or dark orange shade. Some carbonation evident. Forms an average size dark tan foamy/frothy head which retains well and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Very earthy scent with noticeable coffee-like aroma as well. Bitter, tangy hops present in the nose. Some light floral notes as well.

Taste: The bottle describes the beer as being "balanced with hops, not buried in them," but this is most definitely a hop-forward beer. Immediately I get a sharp, slightly tangy hop bitterness which lasts throughout the life of the swig. There’s a slight malty sweetness that quickly appears in the middle of the palate, but the finish begins as it starts only with slightly drier, sharper bitterness.

Coffee and iced tea flavors are quite prominent in the palate, making for an interesting and possibly confusing palate. It’s not overwhelmed with bitterness, but the sweetness seems a tad weaker than it could be. It’s not really refreshing, but the hops aren’t obnoxious, either. Sure there’s a slight drying sensation, but it’s quenched with each succeeding swig.

Mouthfeel: For a pale ale this is surprisingly thick and soft, not crisp. Very smooth and calm in the mouth with mild bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability: Weighing in at 6.5% ABV and the apparent IBUs of a standard India pale ale, Hop Hazard is remarkably drinker-friendly. The palate is robust, but not in your face and the delivery is cool, calm and collected. Seemingly low carbonation makes for a soft mouthfeel and smooth drinkability. A fantastic beer to have with a bacon cheeseburger and fries or maybe just one bottle on its own.

Overall, a pale ale that doesn’t follow convention and is still easy to drink. That’s good enough for me.

Grade: 7/10

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUL 8, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Dark, hazy orange/burnt umber. Forms a small, off-white, soapy head which fizzles almost completely away and leaves no lacing.

Smell: Similar to a Belgian of the style, but with noticeable added spices. Some green fruit notes as well, especially white grape and a hint of green pear. No alcohol presence, though. Some perfumey/floral scents and confectionary sweetness.

Taste: From the first swig alone I knew Tripel Horse was one of the best American takes on the Belgian tripel style. Very sweet, robust palate of spices and candy while still tasting like a genuine craft beer and not some Joe Six Pack-friendly imitation. Right away I get a sweet taste of some syrupy flavors but without any kind of sickly cloying richness. Nutmeg and coriander are present as well give the beer a bit of a spicy kick and a slight tingling sensation as it goes down. There’s a touch of dry bitterness in the middle, but the finish comes full circle back to the sweetness - only intensified.

This is a very tasty, satisfying palate with the right amount of sweetness. Perfectly balanced. The fact the alcohol never emerges, even at warmer temperatures is very impressive, too.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied, soft texture with slight spiciness. Not as overtly carbonated and peppery as a Belgian of the same style might be.

Drinkability: The good taste combined with the drinker-friendly mouthfeel and the quaffability of the brew makes Tripel Horse a very impressive beer in my book. The 10% ABV is nowhere to be found in the nose, palate, or constitution. There is no heat, warmth or obnoxious drying taste or sensation. I probably wouldn’t drink more than one bottle in one session, though, as the potency will (scientifically speaking) catch up with you eventually.

Overall, River Horse Tripel Horse is one of the best American tripels I’ve ever had an a very tasty, satisfying and impressive beer in its own right. Who knew a small brewery from ’Jersey could pull this off?

Grade: 9/10

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