Believe it or
not, most beers have a story. Few, however, have one as poignant as New
River Pale Ale, the first beer to hit the shelves in bottles and on
draft from the New River Brewing Company. The company was founded by
homebrewer Kenny Lefkowitz, and you can read his story at the company’s
Like many homebrewers, Kenny had the dream of making it big time and
starting his own brewery. But Kenny worked a long time at his goal, and
eventually began contract brewing his beer in 1999 at Old Dominion; it’s
still made there today. But Kenny did not live to see his dream fully
realized. Tragically, he died of a heart attack a few years after he began
bottling his beer.
Kenny’s mom and some of his partners have kept the dream of New River alive.
And they seem to be doing a great job. New River Pale ale boasts a number of
awards, including a bronze medal in the American style pale ale category in
2000 and a silver in the same category in 2004. Both of these awards were
received at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
New River Pale Ale just started showing up here in Atlanta in bottles and on
tap. Likely that’s because of its recent success at the Great American Beer
Festival. To me, the most remarkable thing about this beer is its balance.
It accents both malt and hop quite nicely, and that makes it a very
drinkable, very refreshing brew.
New River Pale Ale pours to a bright orange color with a very fruity
hop nose and a thick and foamy head formation. A generous film of Brussels
lace clings to the side of the glass and follows the beer all the way down
to the bottom.
The palate immediately hits you with some very nice notes of chewy caramel
malt. There’s a bit of crisp, candyish flavor too and a noticeable amount of
fruit. The hops quickly emerge with a citric sparkle and increase in
bitterness and aroma right on into the finish. The beer finishes with a dry
lingering bitterness that balances but doesn’t overpower, making this one
accessible to many.