River Horse has, along with Flying Fish of Cherry Hill, grown into one of New Jersey’s premier craft breweries. Craft brewing in the Garden State is not yet as well developed as it is in other areas of the country, but breweries like River Horse are working to bring us up to speed. Their Belgian Tripel, in particular, remains one of the best American interpretations of that style that I’ve tried. Their Summer Blonde, while not as impressive as their Tripel Horse, is an enjoyably simple summer beer.
The Summer Blonde pours a very light gold. It’s not quite as light as beers get, but it’s not far off. It retains a thin white head, and the body of the beer has a slight haze, possibly from its cold temperature. When this happens it’s commonly referred to as ‘chill haze’ and is generally seen as a minor flaw.
The primary aroma of the beer is yeast and bread. It’s common for Belgian style beers to have a particularly strong yeast character in both the nose and the taste of the beer. There’s no detectable hop presence in the smell of the beer.
It has a very light, thin mouthfeel with a moderate, but noticeable amount of carbonation. The yeasty, bready notes from the nose persist in the taste of the beer. There’s a lemony, citrus character in there but it’s overpowered by the yeast and malt flavors. The carbonation clings to the back of the tongue as you swallow, giving it a nice, refreshing character and the taste of yeast remains in the mouth for a few seconds.
It’s quite a simple beer, but that’s what the brewers intended. The label on the back of the bottle says as much. If you’re looking for a more complex Blonde, I’d recommend trying something like Achel. Don’t purchase this beer expecting much complexity and, instead, enjoy a clean, simple beer that you can enjoy several of on a warm day. This is a beer that you can give to someone who refuses to drink anything but Coors Light or Bud Light. It’s uncomplicated enough for them to enjoy but with enough additional flavor to pique their interest in craft beer.
If You Liked This Try: Achel Belgian Blonde, Leffe Belgian Blonde, or Brooklyn Summer Ale
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory.