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Northern Lights IPA - Starr Hill Brewery

Not Rated.
Northern Lights IPANorthern Lights IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

236 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 236
Hads: 857
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 14
Gots: 126 | 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: 236 | Hads: 857
Photo of Cavanaghty
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Amber color with a thin white head.

Smell: Light hops and pine notes with citrus.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste of bitter hops and pine. Mild citrus.

Overall: This was an ok IPA, but not the best I've had. (276 characters)

Photo of chamberscreek
3.34/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A fine, but undistinguished IPA. Had a nice hoppy punch up front, but lacked the follow through and body that I personally prefer. Had a decent citrusy push, with some piney and orange notes, but again, didn't seem to have much ooomph after that. Quite drinkable, but left me unexcited. (286 characters)

Photo of hopphead31415
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look-It pours a clear dark golden amber color with light gold hues in the light. The head is thin, like a quarter inch, and lingers for most of the time. The lacing is white and delicate and thin.

Smell-The aroma is piney and bready cereal.

Taste-I get a piney and citrus hops-like grapefruit and orange peel taste. The floral notes are subtle but present and the lemon peel comes out after a few sips if you pay attention. I also get a peppery hop component on a resinous bed.

Mouthfeel-This medium-bodied IPA has a muted syrupiness to it and mild carbonation content. It is also oily and moist with a clean finish. The alcohol is definitely noticeable, but not distracting.

Overall-I’d say that this beer brings a lot to the market, but I had to hunt a bit too much for the floral components which I really love usually. The pine and citrus were nice, but seemed a bit too standard. However, it was so well presented and drinkable that I’ll give it a good score. (973 characters)

Photo of MUTINY
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (738 characters)

Photo of Pantalones
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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

[most of old review trimmed to make room for the new one.]

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.

====

July 27th 2015: New version of this beer means new review. This is the 5th bottle out of the current six-pack, bottled-on date of June 18th, 2015. (For reference, previous version's scores -- Look: 4, Smell: 3.25, Taste: 3.5, Feel: 3.5, Overal: 3.5)

Look is similar to the older version -- dark golden/orange color, with lots of bubbles visibly rising up from the bottom when I shine a light through. Nice fluffy-looking white head on top, shrinking into a fairly substantial coating with a thick ring around the inside of the glass. As noted in the old review, a good bit of lacing is left behind around the edges as the beer level in the glass gets lower and lower. As appearance goes, it's a nice-looking but not a drastic change from the previous version, so I'll be leaving this at a 4.

Smell is a significant step up from what I remember of the old version. There's still a definite pine element present, but there's a stronger "something fruity" going on (I almost want to say pineapple... definitely something tropical-ish) and also a bit of a caramel-like sweetness in the background that blends in very nicely with the hoppy smells. A nice step up from the relatively faint smell of the previous version.

Taste is a bit different -- the pine isn't as immediately apparent, instead I'm getting a nice malt flavor at first and then the piney and fruity flavors coming in afterward, with the sweetish pineapple-like flavor being the last to arrive and then everything fading into a blend of almost caramel-like malt and leafy bitterness on the end. Very piney burps coming up after drinking just a little of this one. Seems to play nicely with food as well, not changing too much after I've had a few bites of my fettucini. Not as drastic of a change as the smell was, but still an improvement over the old version.

Mouthfeel is pretty nice but doesn't stand out in any particular way, so I'll leave my score as-is there.

Overall: I've got to say that I prefer this new recipe over the old version, though I'm not 100% sure how much of that can be attributed to the changes to the beer and how much is my taste buds being more fond of IPAs now than they were the last time I had the old recipe. Either way, this is a pretty nice beer and I'm finding myself enjoying it much more than I did the last time I had it (before the recipe change.) The smell of the new recipe is especially nice -- the old version came across as a little weak in that area to me, while this one had me sniffing it for several minutes before I started drinking because it just smelled so good. (3,370 characters)

Photo of uvachief
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured 2 12 oz bottles into a room temperature glass boot. Full 3 fingers of head that lingered with lacing. Traditional golden brown IPA color. Not much on the smell side other than hops and a little pine. Citrus in the tongue probably a mix of lemon and orange. Subtle pine with no metallic bite back like your other IPAs. Very mellow and smooth. Like it a lot. (370 characters)

Photo of rjs246
3.84/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Starr Hill redid their recipe so I am re-ranking their beer. It's better! It has a nicer nose and tends more toward the west-coast style than it did previously while still holding on to some of the earthy, east coast hop flavors. Between this, the Soul Shine and Reviver ales, Starr Hill has upped its game on hoppy beers for sure.

Original: I like, but don't love this IPA. A totally drinkable hop blast, but the Grateful Pale Ale is a better beer. (450 characters)

Photo of Zach136
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 4/29 Reviewed live.

A - Deep orange, thin white head.

S - Faint notes of citrus and grass. Actually having to really get my nose in there to discern.

T - Light hop flavors of grass, pine, a citrus peel. Fairly astringent.

M - Medium bodied, refreshing finish.

O - Nothing particularly wrong with the beer, but far from being intense enough to be a go-to American IPA. (384 characters)

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 5/21/14 at 40 degrees into standard pint glass
Aroma of conifers
Head large (6 cm), off white, frothy, slowly diminishing to 6 to 10 mm uneven layer
Lacing OK, some medium islands and stalactites of various size bubbles
Body light orange, clear
Flavor begins very piney, short lived, leaving a bitter aftertaste, also short lived
Palate medium, watery, soft carbonation

Not a bad IPA. (393 characters)

Photo of dacrza1
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
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... (950 characters)

Photo of damndirtyape
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, bottled on 04/23/14, served in a tumbler glass.

Appearance: Clear copper-amber. Thin white skin of foam across the top with a thicker ring at the edge. Some persistent strands of lacing.

Smell: Floral with just a hint of tropical fruit.

Taste: Floral and tropical fruits with some notes of grapefruit citrus mixed in with some sweet tea flavors, with the tea flavors coming out a bit stronger at the finish. I'm not digging the sweet tea finish. However, as the beer warmed up the tea flavors get replaced with a bit more pine and stronger grapefruit bitterness at the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and a little bit creamy even in thickness. Light carbonation. Definite stickiness on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: Mild by most AIPA standards these days, but tasty. Easily drinkable - brings flavor but doesn't pound you over the head with it. Finished quickly and wouldn't mind a larger one, and yet it was best with food. I think because I had a longer meal is why I wouldn't mind another one. Without food I think I might get a little bored with this one. Glad I tried it though. (1,109 characters)

Photo of hophugger
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
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 !!!! (329 characters)

Photo of moysauce
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Beautiful dark copper color - my favorite when it comes to beers. Left about 1 finger of head which dissipated rather quickly and left almost no lacing. Had the lacing been there and maybe a little thicker head, this would have received a 5. The color is just beautiful.

S: Nothing really to write home about here. Definitely a more floral smelling IPA. It's not off-putting, but very average.

T: This is what I would consider an upper-middle class IPA. You get all the bitterness of the hops without your palate taking any damage. At 52 IBUs and 6.5% ABV it is very standard to the American IPA genre. I don't really pick up very much in terms of malty qualities, but if I had to take a stab at it, I'd say I'm picking up some caramel. It;s very subdued, though.

M: Great mouthfeel! Nice and crisp, easy-drinking. Isn't too heavy or really coat your tongue very much, which is my preference. Great carbonation which adds to the crisp, refreshing sensation of this beer. Nice and smooth!

O: Overall, this is a very easy-drinking, refreshing, IPA. There isn't really anything that jumps out at you or grabs your attention, so to speak, but I definitely enjoy it. Pick it up and give it a try if you have a chance! (1,251 characters)

Photo of godlessape
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA
The body has a light clear amber hue to it topped off with a thin but creamy white head.
The aroma is somewhat floral and grassy, with some sweet fruitiness, finishing off with just a little grapefruit.
As far as taste goes everything seems rather subtle. Nothing jumps out and slaps you on the kisser. The caramel malt is there, as is the expected hop bitterness on the tail end. The balance in this is great.
The Mouthfeel is high in carbonation, with a juicy aftertaste.
Overall this is a decent brew, a solid IPA. (548 characters)

Photo of ThePaintedGrey
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Pours a rich copper color with a creamy tan head that starts out two-fingers in height after an aggressive pour. Dwindles pretty quickly, leaving an acceptable amount of lacing down the sides. A roughly 1/4" creamy cap retains like a champion.

S: Floral hops with some citrus fruit. Grapefruit dominates the citric aspect with some tangerines floating around. A little bit of grassiness and some bready malts lingering. Aroma is intense, but lacks in complexity. Nothing astounding, but nothing that can be scored too harshly.

T: Those bready malts up front. A little bit of caramel malt maybe? There's a lot of malt presence in the initial sip. Some weak hop bitterness cuts through, but doesn't really do a great job of taking the driver's seat on the flavor bus. A little bit of medicinal-like bitterness in the end that's still overshadowed by the lingering malt presence. None of these flavors are bad, by any means, but they're very disappointing for an IPA.

M: Medium body, maybe slightly above, I'd say. Crisp carbonation. A bit chewy in the mouth, likely due to the strong malt presence. This one feels great and definitely has some session potential. It's overall a bit too chewy and clean in the finish for me though, given the style.

O: I want to clear up that even though my score for this infers mediocrity, that's not particularly the case. Starr Hill's Northern Lights is a quite enjoyable brew. It's flavorful, it's smooth, it's a great grab for sessioning, BUT it's not a good example of what I look for in an IPA, and I scored accordingly. The malt presence is too dominant and the hops, for the most part, take the backseat. Like I said, this brew is enjoyable and sessionable, but not what I look for in an IPA. This would serve better as perhaps an American Amber Ale, perhaps? (1,844 characters)

Photo of Edward-Nipplebrew
2.82/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice copper color not a bad IPA. Average in taste and quality. Good drinkability. A fine run-of-the-mill IPA nothing wrong but nothing to write home about. Strawberry fields forever. This would be a good choice for novice IPA drinkers as an introduction to get you into trying IPA's. (283 characters)

Photo of delta490
3.51/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- poured a nice clear deep amber with a creamy white head which provides nice lacing

S- Mild bread with some light citrus hops and a faint sweetness at the end

T- Very similar in profile to the aroma. Nothing really stands out with this one, but it's not bad, either

M- a little watery, given the nature of American IPA

O- it's a decent IPA, worthy trying once for the sake of it (384 characters)

Photo of Dodo2step
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

P- Westy's Beer Distributor

A- a copper orange color that is in the middle between clear and opaque. The head is a frothy white that leaves a straight circular lacing on my pint.

S- citrus/grapefruit hops nose with faint malt hints.

F- a strong sharp and tart grapefruit/citrus flavor. not much else in the flavor.

M-light bodied but the tartness of the hops is overpowering and takes away from the other notes that should be in in IPA. It is not as dry or hoppy either.

O- an average IPA. the tartness is too over powering but a good brew all the same from Starr Hill. (574 characters)

Photo of 57md
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance is a copper color with a finger of fluffy white head. The head sticks around for quite awhile and leaves some nice sticky lace behind. The nose has notes of both hops and grapefruit. The flavor profile is somewhat balanced, but I’d say the malt slightly overwhelms the hops. There is also a trace of citrus taste. The finish is milder than most top shelf IPAs. (373 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a very bright, slightly hazy, orange-gold coloring with a frothy, tall, foamy, dense, off-white head that clings all over the glass as you drink. Good looking beer. Aromas of tropical fruits, pepper and tobacco spice, and subtle grass and pine. Flavors are roast forward, with a more subdued fruit character and a solid tart grapefruit profile providing tart and bitterness. Subtle caramel backbone, and with some grass and cedar hops characteristics coming forward towards the tail-end of the palate. Smooth, light body with a tart and roasted sweet aftertaste, with hops bitterness to clean everything up at the end. The finish is dry, with a subtle resinous linger. Solid beer, and easy to drink. Tasty. (759 characters)

Photo of Kendo
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Body is clear, golden-copper in color with a small ivory-colored head. Decent amount of lace.

S: Some citrusy and piney hops, though not big and in-your-face.

T: Surprisingly malt-centric for an IPA; first impression is the caramel malt & toffee of the malt. It loses flavor generally mid-sip, seeming almost watery, but then on the finish there's a mild amount of hop bitterness (think weak grapefruit), along with some green hops (grassy and piney). Decent lingering piney bitterness in the aftertaste.

M: A bit slick in feel. Lighter than medium in heft. Carbonation is modest.

O: OK; reminds me more of an APA than an IPA, but it's not a bad beer. (700 characters)

Photo of Steff_Wantz
4.02/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Beautifully copper colored, can clearly see carbonation, nice head of foam

S: smells a bit musty, definitely has a strong hop aroma to it, hints of floral

T: a bit bitter at the start but a crisp IPA finish at the end, some sweetness to it

M: this brew covers your whole palate and leaves a coating on your tongue after

O: Overall this is a very enjoyable IPA, I would like to try this on draft. I typically forget about Starr Hill but this beer made me remember that this brewery is nothing to forget about. I am going to make sure I put some emphasis on trying more from this brewery in the future. (608 characters)

Photo of Altrurian
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried this as a "premium" selection at the United Club near C-18 at IAD.

A right viscous pour, with noticeable churn as a one-finger, yellow-shaded head takes shape. The head disappears, but cling lingers. The aroma is alluring, with citrus and toffee on an unidentifiable floral base.

The beer's taste is hard and hoppy; no citrus--metallic instead, but with a clean finish. No nonsense, which, I guess, is a generous way of saying it's lacking in complexity and not much fun. But there's something there. Texture is just a touch too prickly. Sure beats the Miller Genuine Draft that preceded it. (599 characters)

Photo of TheMultiYeast
3.36/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours slightly hazy burnt yellow. Small white head.

Nose is grassy, mildly hoppy, tropical notes, C-hops predominate, herbal.

Mild herbal notes, grapefruit hoppiness, decent balance, bitterness is pretty strong.

Feel is a little thin, a bit seltzer-like, but good for a session.

My first beer from Starr hill and although it's not an outstanding IPA, I'm willing to try more of what the brewery offers. (407 characters)

Photo of obywan59
3.67/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours crystal clear and golden orange to light amber in color with a 3 finger near white head that recedes slowly leaving some lasting sticky lacing.

Fresh, vibrant, and redolent in aroma with grassy, over ripe citrus, and caramel components. Yeasty dough at times.

Straight out of the fridge, the front forward bitter aspect was a bit much, but it quickly settled down as the beer warmed. Sweet light caramel from the malts and grassy and bitter hops. Occasional spice in the back of the mouth.

Medium to medium thick in body. Plenty of bite, especially early on. Bordering on creamy, however. Decent warmth from the alcohol.

From the initial smell of it, I thought this might approach the quality of a Stone brew, but the flavor didn't quite hold up. Nonetheless, as it warmed, the flavor was greatly improved and became more than passable. This ranks among the better of the Virginia brews. (897 characters)

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Northern Lights IPA from Starr Hill Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 236 ratings.