Northern Lights IPA - Starr Hill Brewery

Not Rated.
Northern Lights IPANorthern Lights IPA

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838 Ratings
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Ratings: 838
Reviews: 244
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 13.76%
Wants: 13
Gots: 115 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 09-19-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 838 | Reviews: 244
Reviews by squack:
More User Reviews:
Photo of Pantalones
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Second bottle of this one from the Starr Hill Loadout variety pack; bottling date is December 15th, 2014.

It's a dark golden color, pretty clear, with lots of little bubbles rising up at first (though they eventually stop, only briefly returning if the beer is swirled around a bit.) Nice white fluffy head on top at first, which gradually fades until there's just a bit on the surface, leaving significant trails behind on the glass as it goes. I suppose this is what other reviews refer to as "lacing," as there is indeed a lacy sort of pattern going on.

Smell is piney, with a little bit of something else I can't quite identify and occasionally hints of grain--grain becomes more noticeable and pine less so as the beer warms. Not as strong as I was expecting of an IPA, based on my limited experience with the style; actually the smell here might be fainter than the Grateful Pale Ale in the same pack, as I need to put my nose right near the glass to pick much up (rather than being able to smell the piney, citrusy hops from several inches above like with the pale ale.)

Taste is similar to the smell. Piney hops, a hint of something maybe closer to "leafy" or "grassy" every now and then (more noticeable after the beer has warmed slightly), and occasional bits of bready and lightly toasty malt. Oh, and bitterness. Just plain bitterness. The amount of actual hoppy flavor doesn't seem to match the amount of bitterness going on here--it's not super bitter, but it almost seems like there's more "just bitter" than there is hop flavor, which is really odd. Thankfully, that "leafy/grassy" sort of flavor seems to blend with the "pure bitterness" taste a bit more as the beer warms, which is an improvement... but it's still really odd that this beer has that much extra bitterness without a matching increase in hop flavor. And then, as if sensing my complaints as I type them, the last drink in the glass was all pine and toastyness with only a little bitterness... weird.

Mouthfeel is not bad in any way, but not amazing. Doesn't have that interesting "fizzy but it works" thing I noticed in Ranger, but it doesn't feel too watery or light or have any other really negative qualities either.

Overall, while this isn't *bad* by any means it's also definitely my least-favorite from the Loadout variety pack. While the Grateful pale ale grew on me quite a bit between my first and second glass, my opinion on this one hasn't shifted much (though letting the beer warm a bit so that "leaf/grass" sort of flavor began to blend in with the bitter and more of the toasty grain sort of flavor came out was a slight improvement over drinking it right out of the fridge.) I won't have trouble finishing my last bottle of this one, but I'd still rather just have another bottle of the pale ale instead.

EDIT: Bumped up my score for taste just a tad after having the last bottle of the six-pack and enjoying it noticeably more than the previous two.

Photo of oberon
3.41/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good to see this brew show up in my local area.Poured into a nonic a dull slightly hazed full golden with a large tight wthite head that left broken rows of lace as it settled slowly.If I did a blind test on aroma I would never think this was an American IPA,mainly caramel malt with just a passing herbal hop note,not to impressed with that.Flavors regain a little of the hop character but still mild in my mind,light citric and herbal hop mixed with some biscuit malt.A little thin and not the most complex IPA but its not awful.

Photo of merlin48
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pours a hazy amber body with a medium offwhite head. Abundant patch lacing adorns the glass.

Aroma has lots of grassy/earthy hops with a hint of grapefruit. Biscuity caramel malt underneath.

Mouthfeel is medium in body and carbonation with a mild hops bite.

Taste begins with a grapefruit hoppiness which quickly turns to a bitter and grainy earthiness. Maltiness is grainy and biscuity. Finishes with some citrus rind with a grassy hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

A decent American IPA but the grainy bitterness detracts. Not as good as the other Starr Hill brews I've sampled.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the two cask offerings at the downtown Capital Ale House. Major kudos to the wife for suggesting CAH as a dinner location to celebrate Anniversary #5.

Light amber in color. Clear, with a nice layer of off-white head. Sticky lacing of the glass all the way down. Aromas are somewhat small. There are notes of bitter hops, mostly grassy/citrus and a smidgen of sweetness. Flavor is more of the same. A cask-mellowed flavor of bitterness up front. Nothing brash. Middle allows the honey sweetness to stand center stage. Finishes with a well-balanced bitterness that is attenutated by a caramel sweetness. Good mouthfeel and drinkability. Just beind the Big Daddy in my book.

Photo of deanwilson
4.06/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased this beer-six-pack of 12 oz.bottles at at the Broadway Deli in Richmond, Va

A. Sightly hazy when first poured cold into a glass. It almost gives the appearance of being non filtered. It soon clears into a nice amber-copper color.

S. The smell is the only drawback to this beer. It doesnt smell nearly as good as it looks or tastes.

T Very smoothe and extremey hoppy. The hops hang around on the front-sides then back of the tongue for a long time. If you like hops, this beer will definitley give you your fix.

M. Appropriately carbonated and surprisingly rich for an IPA with an ABV of only 5.8% (this is what it says on the label, contrary to the information above)

D. Very drinkable. Great with spicy food. The reasonable ABV makes this a beer you can sit down with and enjoy a few.

Photo of MisterMoore
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a tulip glass, carbonation bubbles climb up the glass moderately.. finger and a half head I would say

A: Foggy copper color....some good lacing but the head fizzles away before you know it

S: Slight hop smell... It's very subtle but you pick it up. As far as an IPA goes i think this smell won't turn away any newcomers from trying it.

T: Hops... it's kinda watered down though, good intro beer to this style since it wont overwhelm your palate.

MF: The taste lingers in your mouth like all IPA's but it's not as strong as others that I've had. Drinkability is very high on this one, but it doesn't knock my socks off.

O: I like this beer... but I don't love it. Nothing is wrong with it, just saying that i want more from an IPA. I encourage people who haven't had an IPA before to try this's a fabulous intro to this style.

Photo of chinchill
3.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle dated best by Nov. 2011 served in a pint glass.

Light orange/amber; hazy with a generous off-white head that looks both sudsy and creamy. Lots of irregular sticky lacing.

Aroma is mainly hoppy citrus with some malt, grass and pine underneath. Somewhat herbal. Alcohols esters appear upon warming.

T - The taste features a citrus-tinged but mainly bitter hop bite. Plenty of white grapefruit bitterness in the lasting finish ... more than warranted by the mid-taste hop level.

M: medium body; very good carbonation level.

O - bolder than average, but lacking the balance and complexity of a world-class IPA.

Photo of Ryanm1
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Run of the mill IPA. Sucked this one down straight from the bottle. Hoppy taste nothign really to comment about this beer. I got this out of the mixed packed that Star Hill makes and this was a marginal IPA which was on par with the Red Ale, and Imperial Stout in the case.

Photo of Aberration
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip

Long lasting, fluffy head. Amber-red Body. Looks very nice in the glass!

Smell: Not much here, malty for the most part with a faded hop characteristic. Can't pick out any individual hop characteristics.

Taste: Not bad, a bit better than the smell would lead one to believe. It is malty and bitter. Like a very good esb. Smooths out quickly after the initial bitter taste.

Mouthfeel: Good mouthfeel. Bitter up front to grab attention and silky smooth at the end.

All in all a solid IPA, I'd buy a 6pack.

Photo of dacrza1
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE REVIEWED: July 17, 2014... GLASSWARE: Maudite snifter... OCCASION: the end of a beautiful summer day... APPEARANCE: an all-too-calm orange amber body; thick, nearly two-finger white head dissipates to a rocky, palpable ring; lacing is random soap spots... AROMA: citrus and candy predominate--watermelon and Boardwalk taffy... PALATE: full-bodied wall of bite that sizzles through the teeth; elicits a lasting, mouth-watering Pavlovian response...a bit warm, though for 6.5% ABV... TASTE: strong and clearly pronounced hops here--Cascade for certain, that West Coast varietal--and a nice underpinning of malts when exhaled; a classic IPA taste without too much confusion or interference... OVERALL: of the four choices in the Starr Hill mix pack, this one easily warrants the most return interest, with its style-adherent flavor and its sessionability--just short of outstanding, the beer refreshes and ingratiates with a full-bodied presence...

Photo of NJpadreFan
4.32/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Starr Hill- Northern Lights IPA

A- Light copper reddish brown with a thick messy lacing head.
S- Sugary and bitter grapefruit hops with a sweet caramel candy malt.
T- Very sweet sugary caramel malt that quickly succombs to a big sugary sweet red grapefruit hoppiness. Slightly sugary but bitter finish.
M- Very sugary sweet and malty to start off but the grapefruit sweetness and bitterness takes over and finishes this 1 off.

Overall- Wow, big juicy red grapefruit hops make this quite a surprise beer! I'll be getting more next time in VA Beach.

Photo of asabreed
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A coppery and lighter amber with good carbonation floating to the top, and all kinds of sticky, spotty, and raucous lacing around the glass. That said, though the head hovers above the body in its minimal whiteness, it doesn't hold as long as I had wished. Still good overall, though.

Smell: Rooty and earthy and rind-esque hops, coupled with some citrus, but like I said, mostly the pungent rind-like flavors with grapefruit more than any detectable piney qualities. Not a lot of malt sweetness, but enough to balance things out, letting the hops take control, but not too much control.

Taste: The brightness of the rind-like hops are pretty fascinating, and there's a lot of good, bitter earthiness and root flavors that I like here. There's a perfume-like fruitiness also as it warms, with some citrus and strawberry leading to the long finish, going in and out of malty fruitiness and bitter earthiness, lasting on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Lighter to medium-bodied with a good bubbly carbonation on the tongue at the end of the swallow.

Drinkability: Another winner from Starr Hill. I'm going to be sad when I leave all these great local breweries from the surrounding areas in Richmond. This one's not going to make you re-think IPAs, but it's a damn good one to be sipping on, both, oddly enough maybe, for the hophead, and the casual fan of the IPA.

Photo of tdm168
3.16/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy orangish amber with a mountain of soft, dense, foamy, white head that has great retention. The nose is lightly bready and has a nice citrusy hop aroma. There's a soap aroma as well which fades with the head. The flavor is malt forward with nice bready, doughy character. The hop character is faint for the style with notes of faint citrus and pine. The hops clash a little with the malt character which throws the flavor off a little. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and smooth.

This isn't an awful beer, but the balance just isn't there. Ultimately, it's just a little too mediocre.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pungent and resinous hops greet you in the nose as your pour this slightly hazy amber ale. It's almost like opening a bag of fresh hops! It brings up a full-sized head, and then maintains an inch thick cap for quite some time. (Lacing is good as well).

The flavor is just as hoppy, but balanced by a bit of yeasty fruitiness and lots of crusty, toasty bread... the kind that's just on the edge of burning at a few small points. It's floral, grassy, gently citrusy, leafy, and a touch piney - very much like East Kent Goldings, but with something else going on in there as well. Kind of a hybrid... It's interesting though, that they've stuck with mainly English hops though, as everyone seems to be making really hoppy beers with all American hops these days. I really like the blend. And I'd say, although it's not massive, that this is a really hoppy beer! And it's got the bitterness to prove it too! It's backed by a bold bitterness that clocks in at probably more than 80-85 IBU's, but at the same time, the rich, kind of luxurious bready-sweet and grainy malt keeps it from getting out of hand.

I've had a few Starr Hill beers before and enjoyed them greatly, but I've never really been impressed until this one. It's really a unique IPA in a sea of IPA's. And superbly balanced, but still with a lot of girth. You don't even know you're getting a hop slam at first - it takes a few sips for the massive oily hop resins and bitterness to set in. Really nicely done. Superb! Worth seeking out for fans of IPA.

Photo of dirtylou
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz single, supplied by the black knight - bort

appearance: poured into a tyranena mini-imperial pint, cloudy amber body, beige froth

smell: citrusy hops, caramel malts, tropical fruit

taste: moderate bitterness, ruby red grapefruit, pine, spicy with a dry finish...nice ipa

mouthfeel: dry finish, stinging hops

drinkability: good

Photo of WoodBrew
2.97/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Starr Hill Brewery Northern Lights IPA is decent. The beer poured golden/light copper clear with frothy white head that is lacing. The smell is weak....some floral notes along some bitter citrus. The casscade and wilmette hops provide a combination of bitter citrus and slight pine. The mouthfeel is medium body with good carbonation. Overall it is a decent beer. Not as good as some other IPAs I have tried however.

Photo of cjgator3
3.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a golden amber color with an off-white head with good lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is malt and hints of caramel, with a good dose of citrusy hops.

T- The taste like the aroma starts out with smooth caramel malts and finishes with a nice citrusy hop bitterness in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is between light and medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, not a bad IPA. It is a little lighter bodied and less ABV than most IPAs so it is a bit more sessionable as well.

Photo of hooliganlife
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours copper with a fluffy white head, nice lacing and slow retention.

not much hops here but strong malts. a bit of an earthy tone. slight scents of caramel.

quite bitter all the way through with a very strong earthy flavor, slight caramel and strong malts. there is a slight funk going on. a bit dry.

nice bold carbonation that doesnt sting. very defined and compliments the beer

a good ipa for sure although funky flavors make this a 1 at a time. a great twist on an IPA and not what i was expecting at all. kind of has a lemon zest in it, xrazy.

Photo of nickd717
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle via trade thanks to ben4321. My first VA beer, which is crazy considering I've ticked off over 1700 beers on RB and lived in VA for 8 years.

Pours clear copper with a small white head.

Aroma is floral and citrusy hops, sweet malt, and something that strikes me as a little strange, maybe wet dog.

Flavor is a little better: Munich malt, citrusy hops, and a little spice. Well-balanced.

Nice palate, with lots of hop bitterness and good crispness with medium body.

A good IPA overall, if not quite as assertive as I'd like. Drinkable.

Photo of Kegatron
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz can into a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper, with several fingers of foamy off-white head. This settle down into a rich dollop of froth in the middle of the glass, coating the sides with a sticky latticework of lacing. The aroma smells of floral tones, spice, earth, and some light metallic notes, with an underlying mix of citrus and a rather prominent grainy sweetness that pushes upward.

The taste has a fairly assertive citric bite to it that is undercut by some earthy and herbal character but stills leaves some rather stiff bitter pith and spice lingering on the tongue. Like the nose, the malts here have a strong toasted grainy presence to them that is nearly as forceful here as the hops are. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a soft crispness in the mouth that intertwines with those more mellow herbal textures to keep this relatively smooth feeling despite the presence of some alcohol here.

Just based on the malt presence here, I could tell that this can must be getting up there in age yet those citric hops still had a bit of fresh life left to them in spots as well. I think that there was enough here for me to want to investigate this one again.

Photo of hdofu
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice plain crisp ipa. The smell is intensely hoppy. The taste is basicly malt and hop. The color was redish with an off white head. The beer was really crisp. It not really exciting but a good ipa none the less with nothing detracting from drinkability

Photo of hophugger
3.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

nice color, good head. A somewhat local beer for me, I have tried several from this brewery and this so far is my favorite. Nice hoppy bitterness, but not overdone. An above average beer, yet not quite one of the best IPAS I have had. Would definitely drink again and would recommend without hesitation. Good job, Starr Hill !!!!

Photo of nickthetick
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear golden yellow in to an American shaker with a finger of light khaki head that leaves very little spotty lacing.

S: Grapefruit, oranges, strong citrus and even a bit minty.

T: Deep flavorfull citrus; lemons, tangerines and grapefruits. Good balanced malt sweetness keeps the bitterness from being cloying.

MF: Light, a bit watered down. Great effervescence.

O: This would be a great IPA for starters but it isn't my favorite.

Photo of output01x
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Dan3279 for this trade.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle (Best Before September 2011) into a pint glass.

A moderate pour yields a 2-finger white head that slowly recedes to a thin coating. The body is a hazy golden amber color with decent carbonation bubbles slowly rising toward the surface. Thick spongy lacing clings to the sides of the glass throughout consumption.

Citrus hops aromas dominate with grassy and pine hops aromas coming through. Notes of lemon zest and orange peel are detectable. A sweet, bready malt backbone adds a decent balance to the nose.

Light and sweet bready malts wash over the tongue while a citrusy sharpness stings the tip of the tongue. Floral and grassy hops flavors then wrap around the tongue until a grassy, acidic, bitter aftertaste lingers on the back of the tongue.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, this beer has decent drinkability but is a little too thick to be thirst-quenching.

Photo of alleykatking
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Almost looks like apple cider. Pours a very hazy brown copper color with orange hues to it. Nice one and a half finger light tan head that dies down leaving great lacing all over the glass.

S- There is a nice caramel sweet backbone to this beer...maybe a touch of honey added to it. Citrus and light floral hops make this beer really appeal to me in the aroma.

T- Alcohol taste I think shoots right through the heart of everything in the taste. Bitter hop bite right off the bat stays around for the entire beer. This calms down a little bit with a light sweet malt taste. Mostly just a bitter alcohol taste throughout.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Bitter hops and light alcohol left on the palate and in the aftertaste. Medium hop resin left on the tongue creating a light slickness to it. Little drying as well from the alcohol.

D- This was a alright beer. The aroma had me to believe it was going to taste like something else. Nice surprise for the most part. Would like to try this a little more fresh.

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Northern Lights IPA from Starr Hill Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 838 ratings.