Northern Lights IPA | Starr Hill Brewery

258 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Northern Lights IPANorthern Lights IPA

Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by OldFrothingSlosh on 09-19-2004

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 258 | Ratings: 960
Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.59/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

I'm going to be brief here: this one ain't good. Served on draft at Local Goat in Pigeon Forge TN.

Looks decent enough. Really dark for an IPA, looking more like an amber. Something not right about the flavor. Sweet and tangy, not hoppy. Aroma is nowhere near IPA level. Overall a huge disappointment. Not even close to an IPA.

 329 characters

Photo of 88caprice
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a glass.

IPAs are not my go-to, but I enjoyed this one a lot.

Clover honey colored, thin creamy head, nice lacing.
Smells sweet like a juicy grapefruit. One dimensional, but very aromatic.
Taste is similar, but with more hop bitterness and malty backbone.
A medium body, heavier that expected. It almost expands in the mouth. A little creamy.

 370 characters

Photo of Lingenbrau
3.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear deep amber with a foamy white head that coats the surface after it recedes. Medium lacing. Smells of fresh orange peel zest with some pine and a mild caramel malt undertone. Flavor is much the same, and I feel all of its sweetness is in the form of citrus like flavors. Feel is pretty nice; a little fuller in body than expected. Smooth, medium carbonation, and barely edges out balanced favoring bitter. Overall, this is a nice and easy to drink IPA and I enjoy its old skool qualities. A touch more bitter and I think this would be solid. Cheers!

 570 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
3.69/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours very clear copper color with nice white head. Spotty lacing around the glass.

Aroma - Strong malt aroma, caramel, hint of pine and citrus.

Taste - Taste is very similar to the aroma with a little more citrus, orange peel grapefruit and pine. Nice flavors.

Feel - Medium bodied, well carbonated, slightly dry finish.

Overall - A solid IPA, nice malt flavors mixed well with citrus.

 403 characters

Photo of Beerdeathexperience
4.16/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A thick, cloudy beer of a beautiful orange hue. Its head is thin, but very creamy. Its taste is restrained, yet full of citrus, pine, and barley flavors. Exceedingly easy to drink.

 180 characters

Photo of danmouer
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I'm not a big American IPA fan, but this is one I come back to often, partly because it is available in the grocrey store, but also because it it suits my taste better than many others. This is not a "West Coast" style IPA, and it is, in fact a pretty competent English-style pale ale with the IBUs turned up a notch or two.

The beer pours clear with a touch of opalescence. There's a nice early off-white head that quickly fades to a presistemt wreath. The color is light orangey-amber. The nose is subtle, but distinctly fruity with some very nice notes of lightly toasted malt. Hops fill out the aroma with resiny and citrusy bits. The flavor is mostly clean, but, again, with the fruity esters, medium body, and sweet malt of an English ale rather than the very neutral, dry, light-body typical of so many American editions. Hops are forward, as they should be in an IPA, but just as much as needed to provide balance and punch to a nicely fleshed-out malt profile.

I enjoy this beer quite a bit, and I'm glad it's easy to find in my neck of the woods.

 1,059 characters

Photo of q33jeff
3.29/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is clear yellow orange, medium white head.Aroma is faint. fruit (berry), wood, resin.Taste is.... ashy, pasty, not pleasant.Lively carbonation, but no amount of bubbles makes up for the retched taste.Not a fan.
Update.. Must have had a bad bottle earlier. This one was quite good. Smooth taste, hoppy but not overly, light wood and citrus. Still tempering expectations.

 410 characters

Photo of MMOSNN
3.05/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look - a hazy orangish amber color with a creamy two-finger off-white head and some slight lacing.
Smell - bready malts, caramel, some faint notes of citrus.
Taste - barely any hop characteristics, mostly sweet malts, but it ends with vague citrus flavors.
Feel - carbonation is decent, but the body is thin.
Overall, this IPA is subpar with little to no hop aromas or flavors.

 378 characters

Photo of Riff
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a tall boy to a shaker glass. Pour was dark amber with a thin white head about a finger deep. Smell was hops heavy, piney. Taste is light, nicely balanced hops that aren't too overpowering. This is not a hop heads IPA. Feel is on the thin side, there but not so much as other IPAs. Overall a decent IPA, very drinkable and pairs well with a number of meals, did not overpower pasta and seafood.

 406 characters

Photo of OldSwampy
4.08/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Attractive ruby-amber with off-white head leaving some lacing. Balanced nose of floral and piney hops. Taste is a good balance of hops and mild toffee malts. Mouthfeel slightly creamy but also a little thin. A fine IPA, hoppy but not bitter to the point of overkill. Quite nice; the more I drank the more I appreciated the balance.

Bottle date 2/29/16.

 353 characters

Photo of WesMantooth
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Bottled 2/1/16
A foggy, reddish orange color. Big off-white foamy head. Some lacing.

Little to no aroma. A tocuh of citrusy hops, but mainly subdued malts.

Some sharp rind and all lemon a d grapefruit. An orange like sweetness. Bitter, slightly aspirin like aftertaste with floral hops.

Body is kind of syrupy and oily.

I know this is not the freshest of bottles, but I can't imagine 10-12 weeks having that much of an effect that it makes it a borderline average ipa. Just doesnt offer much.

 500 characters

Photo of FriedSlug
3.37/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Reddish orange beer with a quickly fading white head. No lacing left behind. There is really very little aroma to this one. The faint smells are a little onion and citrus with malt. The taste is a bit better than the smell but mainly it is mildly sweet, slightly fruity and a little bitter. This just did not turn out to be one of my favorite IPAs.

 348 characters

Photo of Buck89
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy amber-orange color. Thin white head. It was packaged 7 weeks ago, but little to no aroma, other than some bready malt. The taste is thin, with some pine and faint citrus. Mainly bland. Thin mouthfeel.

 213 characters

Photo of Bacardi222
2.4/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a chilled Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass.

Look: A clear amber color which appears pale upon inspection up to a light source. Minimal, lazy head which quickly dissipates. Light carbonation rising steady and slow through consumption. Little to no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Generally underwhelming and not full of character. Slight pine with some overtones of citrus fruits like orange and grapefruit.

Taste: Entirely average taste which reflects the underwhelming aromas. Pine is immediate and persistent through the course of consumption. Slight citrus elements coming through primarily from grapefruit. Slightly bitter and balanced by light malt. While balanced, I find the flavor to be dull and almost one-note.

Feel: Mouth-feel is thin and watery with little body. Carbonation is minimal.

Overall: I give this a completely average rating of 2.5. Clean and smooth with little to upset newcomers to the category, but almost nothing to make it stand out from the over-saturated category of IPAs. Mouth-feel is the most offensive part of this beer. Loose and watery with a slight lingering taste of pure bitterness after swallowing. Improving this aspect of the beer would likely boost its overall rating.

 1,237 characters

Photo of vabeerguy
4.04/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a nonic glass. Hazy amber color. Minimal head but some lacing. It seems my rating is on the high side but I thought this beer was very good. It is definitely going to be on my favorite list of APAs and IPAs.

 237 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 8-23-15 into pint glass. Pours a reddish amber with an eggshell-white head. Initial impression is roasted malt, with a hint of sweetness, followed by a dry, earthy hop finish. Medium mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Quite drinkable, but not remarkable.

 272 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.04/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampling a cellar temp 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours a clear amber color with a bit of ruby highlighting around the sides of the glass. Eggshell white head foams up 1 cm and fades quickly to a sturdy edge layer with a few lazy streams of bubbles rising to the surface. Aroma is mild overall with some grainy caramel up front. This rolls to a mild hoppy nose that features some rindy citrus and hits of general herbal tea. Very mild nose overall, nothing offensive.
First sip reveals an average body and gentle carbonation. the flavor is as the nose advertises with some grainy malt and a bit of toffee. This rolls to some astringent hops with rindy grapefruit and bitter tea leaves. Not too strong of a hop bite and a bit drying on the finish.
The alcohol is hidden very well and the beer is easy to drink. Not an incredibly interesting beer but not tragically flawed either.
I think there are better IPAs out there but dont hate this beer.

 970 characters

Photo of HotBeerJosh
3.86/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I've enjoyed this beer more than 4 different times. It's available at most package stores in the Richmond area, which helps its rating in my mind.

Lighter in color and in taste. Not much punch so easily drinkable for anyone who is new to IPA's, or someone who just likes flavorful beers.

I'll usually buy it because its one of the few IPA's above 6% that my local food lion sells.

 383 characters

Photo of Cavanaghty
3/5  rDev -17.4%
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%
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 +8.5%
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 +13.8%
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 Davepoolesque
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

golden orange in color. Fairly clear in appearance. Smells like the cannabis. It could just be skunked. Taste is on the lighter side. Short finish. Thinner body.

 165 characters

Photo of Pantalones
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
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 +1.1%
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

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Northern Lights IPA from Starr Hill Brewery
3.63 out of 5 based on 960 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.