Northern Lights IPA - Starr Hill Brewery

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Northern Lights IPANorthern Lights IPA

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239 Reviews
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Reviews: 239
Hads: 867
Avg: 3.64
pDev: 25.82%
Wants: 15
Gots: 130 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 239 | Hads: 867
Photo of wangbruins
4.75/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Light copper color with two finger head with great staying power and all over the place lacing

S- Piney and earthy, your typical IPA scents, but pretty strong with a bit of caramel

T- Earthy with some citrus flavors- lots of lemon and a bit of orange

M- A bit of a bite on the tongue at first with a little sting after but a good aftertaste that stays with you for a minute or two

D- I was impressed- I got this at work from the promoters trying to get my boss to carry it and wasn't expecting much but was pretty surprised- it's pretty damn good

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Photo of ackleydg
4.45/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Northern Lights pours a nice reddish-amber color, with a substantial head and good lacing. The smell is hoppy for sure, mostly a citrus and floral character with some sweet malt in there. The taste compliments the aroma very well. It's not overwhelmingly bitter. The floral and citrus notes give way to a slight malty sweetness that you might expect from an amber or red ale. Mouthfeel is well-carbonated on the tongue and foam on the swallow.

A good IPA, a great blend of hops and malt.

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
4.44/5  rDev +22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured a bottle into a standard White Hawk IPA pint glass.

A: Hazy dark golden with an overall orange tint. Decent head that leaves lots of lacing down the glass.

S: Exceptionally fragrant but not overpowering. Subtle notes of vanilla and honey hiding within the expected hoppy nose. Hops are floral here. Balanced nicely with a malt presence.

T: One of the nicest, most balanced IPA's I've had so far. Goes down smooth with very little bitter aftertaste. Lots of hops on the front with a decent malty wave in the middle and toward the end. I get mild grapefruit and a hint of pine.

D: As someone who finds it hard to consume more than 3 or 4 IPA's in a sitting usually, I'm hard-pressed to think of a more drinkable IPA. I killed 5 of these a little too easily...

Value: Regularly $8.99 a sixer by me, but I picked it up on sale for $6.99. At that price, forget about it, that's a total steal.

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Photo of jonziefle
4.43/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured a honey amber color, slightly cloudy (a very fine micro suspension). Two finger foamy/pillowy head with very good retention. Some visible carbonation. Excellent lacing all the way down.

Smell: Smells strongly of citrusy hops. Strong grapefruit and pine scents. Moderate sweetness, with a hint of malts (but not much). Very appealing overall.

Taste: A nice bitter and sweet hop bite right up front. Strong pine flavors, with general citrus afterward. A darker sweetness afterward, but not syrupy. Enough malts to make the beer easy to drink. The hops are strong and flavorful, but not harsh.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with a nice hop bite and minimally carbonated.

Drinkability: An excellent example of an American IPA. Good hop flavor and sweetness, without being overall harsh or syrupy. Good body and alcohol levels. Incredibly drinkable (easy to drink several) while being a good sipper as well (savoring one is great as well).

Buy Again? Yes. As long as I'm in the distribution range of Starr Hill, this could be my go to IPA.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +21.4%
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.

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Photo of therica
4.4/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Killer amazing uber IPA by this exciting new brewery.

A= copper-amber, dense white foamy head.

S= hops florals out the wazoo, with bready-dough depth.

T= mega-bitter hops with plenty of good taste and quality. Much less in the citrus-hops (Chinook et al) category than many of the recent uber-hops micro offerings the past few years. Outstanding IPA. Great depth, boldness, and also nicely bready balanced.

M= bitter bitter and florals. Somewhat astringent (and numb?!?!? ha ha).

D= only the uber-bitters keep me from rating this higher than "just a 4.0" on the scale.

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Photo of karst
4.38/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours light amber (hot brewed tea)Paired with crab BLT at Capital Ale House on the first day of spring in downtown Richmond, Va. Aroma from the well poured pint with 2 fingers of dense white cream head is making the wait for it to recede seem long. I am astonished at the level of carbonation from this cask.

As the food hits the table I admire the persisteant showy lace, inhale the nearly hop vinyard fresh hopped IPA and take my first taste. No bite! A midly bitter finish with medium body and well balanced malt O.G./IBU ratio. Finish is supurb - dry and a velvet soft round mouthfeel suggests dextrins of honey. A session with a growler is in order!

I am just blown away with the awesome fresh citrus hop flavor and want to know if this is a freshly tapped cask.

I resolve to find this brewery! My server Michael G stops by and resolves to try this local cask beauty at the end of his shift. Another cask brew and 29 more on tap including half dozen locals follow. I envy the locals who are able to savor a second glass with out the pressure to try the extensive Capital Ale House offerings. The day was made by Stinky!

Hats off to Mark Thompson - a true master brewer.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
4.32/5  rDev +18.7%
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.

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Photo of dwterrell
4.32/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is probably the best IPA available on tap in the city of Charlotte.

That isn't saying all that much, but if you like good IPA's, this is one of them.

It was similar to Sierra Torpedo.

I had it with the Pub Burger at Selwyn Pub.

And then I had another for dessert.

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Photo of Nay
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap in non- beer geek bar, good session ipa. Hoppy and bitter, malt subdued, but there. Fresh tasting but not a lot of aroma, still good what was there: some malt yeast and hop aromas. Hop bitterness tasted like a blend of american hops leaning toward pine, not candy or bubblegum thankfully. Nice dry finish.

A tasty session ipa: not overly bitter or malty or alcoholic; dry.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 12oz bottle gifted to me from "bro" Artied2, which he procured on his last trip to C'Ville. Best before March 2012 is notched on the label.

My pint glass was filled with a slightly cloudy, medium golden brew. Head was white, creamy and fine, with nice stick in the glass. Carbo was scattered and slow. Aroma showed some solid citrussy hopping, with some underlying toasty malt. Body is medium-plus, almost chewy, and it is silky asmooth on the tongue.

There is indeed a little toasty malt present in the flavor, with some subtle, light sweetness. Following that is a healthy dose of resiny, pithy hops. Yes, a verrry healthy dose! Some grapefruit and rindy bitterness coats the palate, and lingers quite nicely!! Thnx for the good stuff cheap, Bro! Prosit!!

4.28 rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


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Photo of mmmbeer
4.21/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, best by 12/09 - sampled a month before that. Brewed with two-row, caramel, Munich and wheat malts, and hopped with Cascade to 92 IBUs. Formerly called "Stinky" and my bottle states it's 5.8%. There are both chill and hop hazes in its amber body and its ample carbonation builds up a cream-colored, lightly-frothy head that leaves sheets of lacing. Lots of orange and grapefruit notes in the nose - a bit one-sided, but still smells good. Loads of grapefruit flavor and very bitter, with a light sweetness and a drop of caramel. Pretty damn tasty. Just a touch too much body, with low carbonation and a very long finish that ends dry. Nice, easy to drink hop bomb - well worth a try.

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Photo of cyclonece09
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz can into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a nice orangish amber with a nice 1 finger white head. Has a nice flowery and citrusy aroma, well balanced and with a slight malt aroma. The taste of the hops, kind of an earthy tone, dominates this light-medium bodied beer. The malt adds some interesting notes. Carbonation is perfect and it is definitely a beer that you can throw down all night. Overall, a very good IPA and beer.

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Photo of peterittenhouse
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sipping on vacation in OBX.

Big hoppy IPA. Not your normal Summer seasonal brew but still very good nonetheless.

Very sharp hop bitterness with tons of malt. Bitter hops hang on the palate throughout the session.Very good IPA.worth a try. Much better served in winter. Hats off to Starr Hill for a Summer Seasonal "hop bomb."

GO Fightins

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Photo of BeerMarshall
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried on tap at Starr Hill and from bottle in the past.

A: golden, thin head
S: piney hop aroma with citrus hints, high on the cascade
T: Again, high on the cascade hop aroma but not in your face.
M: Appropriate to style.
O: A good IPA. Not the best, but definitely a go to of mine for a hoppy beer.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: red-amberish tone. decent lacing and head retention.

smell: decent hop aroma and citrus notes

taste: a solid IPA with a full flavor of hops giving off some citrus notes.

mouthfeel: medium bodied

drinkability: overall a solid IPA and if I see it fresh I will grab it

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Photo of scottyshades
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a six of these at Ingles in South Carolina for $7.69, very smart buy.

A: Pours a hazy golden/amber/copper color that is barely transparent. The head is eggshell colored, very fluffy and airy, and retains throughout the entire beer. A real plus for sealing in all those delicious flavors and notes. The lacing along the glass is sticky.

S/T: Starts out very piney, bitter hoppy, and floral. Very nice nose, has a little bite to it, but not as intense as I had imagined. The hop aromas are medium in intensity, and as the beer warms they decline into a very balanced bready and malty note. I must say, this beer is very balanced. There is slight citrus peel on the nose. So all of the fundamentals are here: both a floral and a bitter hop presence, slight citrus (lemon & orange), and a strong (equally impressive) malt backbone to balance everything out.

MF/D: Pretty viscous and thick for an IPA, sticky lips effect from the hops, and a nice pine finish.

Overall, I was pretty impressed by this brew, although it has to compete with Sweetwater for my go-to IPA, which is virtually a losing battle. Just a nicely done example of an IPA

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Photo of jbhuxley
4.15/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Opened this one with low expectations. I've tried a few disappointing IPAs lately.

Appearance: Hazy orange copper color. Pour yields a one finger head. Great lacing, sticks around till the end.

Smell: Fresh, piney hops.

Taste: Mild, sweet malt with fresh citrus up front. Finishes deliciously bitter. Excellent balance of malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Round and Silky, almost buttery.

Drinkability: Balance is great. I wish I had another. This is an all-day IPA.

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Photo of argock
4.14/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a clear pint glass at Beer Run (Charlottesville, VA) for $3.75 for 16oz.

A: Amber-orange with thin 1/2 finger cap of off-white head with good lacing.

S: Much more pungent on-tap, especially if you can hold off and let it warm some. Orange, grapefruit, and pine are the strongest aromas of this citrus, floral dominated ale. Caramel and pale malts barely slip through.

T: The flavor is good but not terribly distinctive. I like the hefty floral, citrus hops bite but it isn't over-the-top and is cut well with a light fruitiness that belies the hefty malting of this carefully crafted beer.

M: A nicely coating mouthfeel that also substantiates a big maltload. Carbonation is rightfully low and the aftertaste is bitter, bitter, bitter.

D: A really great effort by Starr Hill and it shows the progress they have made and the commitment to putting quality first in their brewing. A lesser brewery would have shortchanged in the malt department. The big mouthfeel confirms the care that goes into their beers.

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Photo of Risser09
4.14/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter - fridge - 2008

Appearance: Pours a translucent, muddy orange color with a very short ivory head. Retention is short as well. Some spotty lace remains on the sides of the glass.

Smell: A bitter citrus and floral arrangement of hops leap out of the glass. Grapefruit, sweet candy, and underlying pale malt.

Taste: Very bitter beer. Lots of grapefruit and pine make some intense IBUs. This could easily be confused with a DIPA. Sweet malt remains behind all of that bitterness. Lingering bitter and dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Super bitter with a medium body. It starts bitter, then gets sweet, then returns to bitterness. A little bit of alcohol.

Drinkability: This is quite a tasty beer that threw me off guard, in an impressive way. You could easily mistake this beer for a top notch IPA. Great job.

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Photo of MUTINY
4.13/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a solo cup.

A: Brilliant, clear copper/caramel with 1/2" of off-white head. Retention is OK, lacing is nice.

S: Straightforward & mellow, some pine, floral notes, cereal, just a touch of citrus.

T: Resinous hops on a bed of flowers. Some more pine (not much), lemon peel, grass, graham cracker. The more you hunt, the more depth of flavor reveals itself. Almost a peppery hop-bitter punch on the finish.

M: Oily & slick, medium carb with a burly malt body. Super-drinkable.

O: This is just flat-out one of my favorite IPAs on the market anywhere. This brew has deep flavors, a solid hop-kick & major quaffability. I'll take the Pepsi challenge with this IPA v.s. almost any other on the market right now.

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Photo of iceball585
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Bright golden brown color, semi-hazy, one finger thick fluffy head that faded slowly

S- Herbal hops, citrus, grassy, earthy, hint of sweetness

T- Pine, bitter hops, pale malts, biscuits, caramel, buttery

M- Medium body, medium carbonation, well balanced, crisp, slightly dry finish

D- Worth buying again

Good crisp flavors but not too over powering as some IPAs tend to be.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Somehow, I found this one less musically inspiring than its CANival counterpart. I suppose, like JenRay, I take my IPAs too seriously to be frivolous and capricious. Still, I found it in a CAN and that counts for a whole lot in my book. Let The CANQuest (TM) CANtinue!

From the CAN: "Starr Hill founded in Charlottesville, VA (but I founded it at Whole Foods in DC)"; "The Gift of Great Beer"; and undersigned by "Mark A. Thompson Master Brewer".

The Crack & Glug was another success! I had two tawny fingers of thick, dense head (besides my own) and the smell ... The color was a deep orangish-amber with NE-quality clarity. The nose was so grassy and minty that I thought perhaps someone had seen fit to mow my lawn! I had the back door open on this very pleasant afternoon on the eve of my return to school so it was not out of the realm of possibility. Whoops! It is only Friday and the weather report generally only goes in a New Beer Sunday review. I have never been known as much of a CANformist, so I should be okay. Mouthfeel was medium and the mintiness of the hops was just understated enough that I had downed over half of it without even thinking. Easy drinking? Too f'in' easy! Finish had a clean, minty aftertaste like I had just finished with mouthwash (although the cops would probably disagree). Heavy lacing throughout and I began to despair that I might have to fire up the jackhammer to get it all off. I would definitely want some in the cooler at any given time, but especially on Hula in the Coola Day (01 Feb, annually)! Yum.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic

Pours a translucent honey golden amber with a fluffy off white head that has great retention and some specks of lacing. Always impressed by the aroma of this on tap, not quite as strong from this bottle, but still surprisingly rich. Nice mix of pungent and sweet pine and citrus hops. Body has nice medium, chewy feel with sharp carbonation. Bottled version is missing a little sweetness I remember from the draft version, very resiny, pungent taste, like citrus rind and a lingering grain flavor. Nothing exceptional, but a very nice affordable local IPA.

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Photo of HoosBrews
4.11/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has this on draft at Custom Home Pubs in Charlotte, NC. Appearance was a clear amber-orange with plenty of carbonation. Slightly floral aroma, but nothingreally big in the nose. Tastes piney and malty with the hops winning out in the finish. Slightly dry taste, with no alcohol burn. Decent mouthfeel and definitely a drinkable IPA. A really good American IPA.

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Northern Lights IPA from Starr Hill Brewery
82 out of 100 based on 239 ratings.