River Horse Hop Hazard

River Horse Brewing Co.

Lambertville, NJ

Hop Hazard Pale Ale

After one of the better beers I’d reviewed in a while, I couldn’t wait to pop open this next sample from River Horse. The brewery boasts that this dry-hopped beer has a five hop wallop and I am eager to partake.
A smooth pour keeps this beer from getting too anxious, but immediately there is a strong whiff of molasses and grapefruit. The head is an off white pillow that sticks to the rim of the glass with a nice viscosity, coating the inside. The color is a shiny penny copper that gleams with a tinge of orange through the excellent clarity. The carbonation is slow, small, and steady–it rises to the top and helps the surface retain a thin layer of algae-like foam.

The nose comes across with more malt than grapefruit, and the citrus is like a lemon cleanser but without any chemical stringency. The hop notes are not as floral as many dry-hopped IPAs, but sweeter like a red or brown ale. The mouthfeel is very similar to this brew’s lager brother. There is cascade (not like the hops) of flavor that covers the tongue and palate. Bitterness certainly dominates, which is what is expected, but it is a peppery bite, not a tangy bouquet like most pales. The sides of the tongue get more of the citrus notes; it is mild and like under-ripe grapefruit. A slight water cracker crispiness persists but the swallow ends less smoothly or tartly than I would have liked.  The lacing is complete and lasting, more of a wallpapering than an actual lace.

A good beer, but it is too similar to the lager to really be a standout as an IPA. Similarity to the lager is a good thing, but I had high hopes and this beer is not a shining example of the style. Still worth a pull.


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