This past Saturday I was free from both jobs to do whatever I pleased, the first time I had a wide open schedule in what felt like a long time. What better way to fill the void than a visit to River Horse Brewing Company a little ways up the Delaware in Lambertville, NJ. Despite living fairly close and frequenting that area quite a bit in the summer months I had never actually been to River Horse for a tasting/tour and it felt good to check it off my list. There are also a few vintage shops in town so I knew I could bait my girlfriend into coming along.
Situated right next to the river, the brewery is tucked away in an unassuming office complex in a tiny brick building that is over 100 years old. The building was originally used for the production of oyster crackers and later other various snack foods. Luckily today their product is much more enjoyable. Speaking of which, I had never been overly impressed with River Horse's brews. They make some quality beers (I'm partial to their Tripel and Milk Stout) but I've never had a River Horse that really wowed me. Not trying to bash them but seeing how small they are I couldn't help but feel like they could take a few more risks with their beer.
Entering the tasting room on the first floor I ordered myself a sampler which consisted of 4 decently sized samples (Lager, Tripel Horse, Belgian Freeze, and their Special Ale) for $1...a good start. A few moments later the tour guide gathered the small group to start the tour. Figuring out how to hold my beers, take pictures, and stay interested in what this guy was saying was quite a challenge especially since we had to head up to the brew-house which is on the second floor. The above picture is their entire operation, I was really surprised to see how small they actually are there. They really have no room to expand at their current location but they seem make the best of what they've got.
They is a big window up on the second floor that everything must come in and out of when they bring in new ingredients or supplies. This did not make me envy the brewers at all. They had been brewing Lager just before we arrive and the assistant brewer was actually in the mash tun cleaning it out as the tour came through. We headed back downstairs where they were actually kegging some Oatmeal Milk Stout, it was nice to go on a tour of a brewery as they were actually operating which was somethign I had never experienced before. The downstairs packaging area gives them much more space but is also subject to flooding every now and again. Lot's of factors here made me think that they could really benefit from a move. The guide let us get up close and personal with the bottling line, finished the normal shpeel, and just left us there in the packaging area as he went out through a different door. Strange way to end a tour.
While I'm glad I finally got to see the brewery, River Horse isn't one of the must-sees of our local beer scene. The brewery and tasting room as so small and offer very little space to just hang out before or after the tour. It was interesting to see a brewery in operation but everything else was pretty typical of a tour. I did notice that they haven't fully finished re-branding themselves as some beer was about to be shipped out with the old logo and branding. I prefer the new look much more and hope they make the full transition soon. According to their website, Friday tours are self-guided. I'm not quite sure how that would work but would be eager to hear about it.
80 Lambert Lane
Lambertville, NJ 08530
Lambertville, NJ 08530