River Horse is a local tri-state brewery which has been in operation since 1996. According to the marketing text on their variety pack, the Lambertville, NJ operation was taken over by two former finance professionals who decided they had enough of the corporate rat race and decided to pursue their dream of opening a brewery. The dream has been well realized, and River Horse beers enjoy high ratings and distribution in nine states.
Tripel Horse is the brewery’s Belgian Tripel offering. Tripels are traditionally strong, high-alcohol ales (BJCP Category 18C) which are dangerously drinkable. Tripel Horse definitely fits this description, masking its 10% ABV strength with a smooth, rounded character that can get you in trouble very fast. This is a beer to be enjoyed in moderation, unless you have plans of retiring early for the night!
The beer pours a beautiful, deep gold color with a thick, lacing head. The aroma is typically Belgian, with spicy and fruity notes accented by the clove and vanilla esters from the yeast. The flavor profile is also wonderfully complex – big, juicy malt which coats the mouth and alternates between spicy and slightly fruity/tart, with some citrus, vanilla, and even raisin notes coming through. The hops kick in towards the finish, lending a nice bitterness which counters the malt and lets the beer end on a balanced, dry note. The alcohol is present as an undercurrent, tying all of the components together without ever being harsh or overpowering.
It is somewhat daring for an American brewery, and one from New Jersey at that, to produce an authentic Tripel, but River Horse has done an amazing job with this beer. It has all of the characteristics one looks for in a Tripel, yet retains a touch of its own character, making this quite a unique offering. It’s dry finish makes this a bit more approachable than some of the classic Belgian ales, although it would still be a bit of a culture shock for light beer drinkers. If you are looking for an introduction to the Tripel style, this is one beer to seek out.
River Horse Tripel Horse can be found locally in Fairfield County. Visit Bevmax Liquors (149 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851 – 203-847-2779) or call the Fairfield County distributor, Drinx Unlimited (372 Ely Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854 – 800-861-7632) to find other retailers near you.
This article was originally scheduled to be published yesterday as part of our American Craft Beer Week’s “craft beer of the day” series. Unfortunately, technical issues forced us to delay publication. We will be publishing two articles on Friday to make sure you get your full fix of craft beers! Apologies for any inconvenience.