a glossy, overly-manicured craft beer experience, but damn good all the same.
- 24 N Pleasant St.
- Amherst, MA 01002
Molly and I tried High Horse a few months after it opened 3 years ago. We were living in Northampton at the time. I remember liking it, but then we up and moved to California. With only one meal and a few pints to go on, High Horse faded in memory. Now that we live down the road High Horse has become a favorite.
Impossibly, they seem to have let their website lapse, so finding information on what’s currently on tap or on their menu is hard if you want to avoid Facebook. Without a central authority I’ve seen them called High Horse Brewery, High Horse Brew Pub, and according to their Twitter feed (their handle, yet another variation) High Horse Tap House. It’s all very strange, especially considering the food and beer is so consistent and good. So guys, if you’re reading this, I’d gladly build you a site in exchange for burgers and beer.
So I’ll get to the beer in a minute. We’ve been trying to find our go-to burger since we got back. We love The People’s Pint, but now that we’re past the far side of Amherst it’s too much of a hike to do Greenfield as often as we did in Northampton. There are several burgers in our vicinity though that are excellent, and High Horse is in the top spot. The bun, the quality of the beef, the presentation, and the bottomless fries all contribute to that. The thing securing their ranking for us are options.
Most every place that serves burgers has one with bacon, one with mushrooms, yadda yadda. If the burger is good those choices are equally as good, but ultimately those things are treated as exotic condiments. All that to say they don’t make the overall burger better, just different. High Horse makes a good thing great in this department.
Our last visit we had their take on the mushroom burger, The Frenchman. The mushrooms are cooked down in port wine and smothered in local Gruyere cheese. We’ve also tried their Black and Blue, which is crusted with black peppercorn and mustard seed before being graced with strips of bacon and a generous chunk of strong, pungent blue cheese. For a straight up burger you can’t go wrong here, but if you’re on the fence about the up-sell, don’t be.
Veggies out there take note, there’s a non-meat option made in-house too. They have a whole vegetarian menu in fact, so soldier on.
I’m doing this in reverse order I guess. Our last trip we had the beet and arugula salad, which was very good if a bit stingy with the beets. Or maybe they were overly generous with everything else. It was a solid salad and we’ll order it again, but beet-lovers be warned the titular ingredient is along for the ride and not running the show.
We’ve also tried High Horse’s contribution to the advancement and refining of tater tots in something they call Spud Nuggets. You can get these as a standalone appetizer or upgrade your fries if you order a burger. They may have a whimsical name, but they’re closer to the loftiest croquette than something from the freezer section. They’re crisp on the outside and as silky as mashed potatoes inside. The appetizer portion is big, so bring 2 friends or split dinner.
A regular rotation of cask selections is usually all I need to hear. The bartenders at High Horse deserve a collective round of applause. They’re knowledgeable, friendly, efficient without being “are you done yet?” pests, and they’re eager to sample anything you ask about.
Last visit I had their Another Lover IPA on cask and it was delish. A little piney, but not overpowering with a nice hop finish. It didn’t eclipse the Satisfaction IPA they also have, but wasn’t exactly its own thing. They’re paternal twins, not cousins, but if you like West Coast style backbone in your IPA you’ll dig them both.
Our shared favorite was their Beyond The Pale British style pale ale. I’ve had several British-style Pales on this side of the Atlantic and while they’re generally good they don’t take me back to London pubs. Like too many Americanized Belgium-style beers, they tend to be overdone in my opinion. Beyond The Pale is a big exception. We both loved it, and I wished I had a Fuller’s there to do a side by side. I think High Horse’s Beyond would have won out. It’s got the maltiness, the killer aroma, and the right touch (and variety) of hops on the end. It’ll be hard for either of us to order anything else now that we’ve tried it.
We’ve also tried their Minx Saison and Hadley Smoked Lager. The former was good if a bit mellow. Their cask choice sometimes features an aged version of the Saison called Soleil D’or we both found a bit odd, if still good. I keep trying smoked beers hoping to find one I don’t hate, and High Horse’s fit the bill. I still couldn’t get through a pint of one on my own, but it’s an interesting choice to throw into a flight/sampler.
Final Word: great burgers, atmosphere, staff, and brews. Worth the drive from further afield, and if your local, well, we’ll see you there for sure.