Northern Lights Ale | South Shore Brewery

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Northern Lights AleNorthern Lights Ale

Brewed by:
South Shore Brewery
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Cream Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by tavernjef on 06-01-2003

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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 49
Photo of NilocRellim
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright, hazy gold colour. Smells light, earthy hops, with a hint of sweet malt. Tastes light, crisp, slightly fruity, earthy hops, with a clean finish. Not much to it, but crisp and refreshing.

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Photo of emerge077
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not sure if this a new recipe or just a rebranding. The Northern Lights label says "ale with herbs added".

Dark tawny reddish orange, visible carb trails, long lasting head retention, it pours with a few fingers of foam at first, and the skim never breaks on the surface. Not much lace, just a few spotty bits.

Aroma is mild, light toasty malt, vaguely sweet.

Taste is an unusual combo of toasted barley and most likely sage, a light sweetness at first, then drying in the finish. Medium bodied with moderate carb levels. Lingering toastiness in the aftertaste, the herb addition is only a flash in the middle. Overall not bad, i'll admit I avoided this beer before when it was named "Herbal Cream Ale", but it's not a bad beer at all.

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Photo of zeledonia
2.84/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy golden wheaty yellow color. Little head, gone in a second, and little lacing.

Smell is an amalgam of grains, with a hint of lavender and a touch of apple. Wheat, some light sweetness that feels like corn, but I don't think it is. Interesting, and very different. It's a soft aroma, but full and varied.

Taste is again interesting, though I'm not liking it as much as the smell. Has a very adjuncty feel, with some flavors sitting back there that just don't seem like they belong in beer. Is there corn in this? Has a faint herb-like flavor as well (maybe that's the label working on me). A weak almost-bitter spiciness comes in late. A real mishmash, but none of it great, and it doesn't come together for me.

Light body, just enough carbonation that I'm not irritated, but not enough to make me happy. Finish is blah.

This beer has some highs and lows, but all around, I just find it kinda odd. The flavor is strangely cluttered with hops, adjuncts, and herbs. I'm often meh about cream ales, and this one does nothing to change that.

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Photo of ChopperSmith
2.73/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy and cloudy light yellow/golden. Very little foamy head and minimal lacing.

Smell: Faintly sweet and grainy/grassy. No noticeable hops aroma detected. Smells like an average cream ale/adjunct lager.

Taste: Fairly thin, weak and sweet. Not the worst cream ale I've tried, but far from the best. Everything about this cream ale is fairly average.

Mouthfeel: Thin, light and highly carbonated. Not so great.

Drinkability: This brew is light on just about everything, as far as cream ales go. It's closer to a light beer than a cream ale. Not a lot of flavor, and not one I'd seek out again. For Wisconsin beers, New Glarus does a better cream ale with their "Spotted Cow" brand.

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Photo of botham
1.91/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. pours a light golden color with a half finger of white head that has poor retention and leaves light lacings.

aroma is lightly fruity and a touch spicy, with notes of light bready malts and some herbs in the background. a light note of citrusy hops comes through as the brew warms a bit.

taste is more of the same with a watered down character and a general lack of character. a lightly herbed note that comes off a bit medicinal is the only real distinct flavor, albeit still subtle.

mouthfeel is light bodied and watery, with a crisp finish of little to no flavor.

drinkability is bad. this brew contains elements that could be good if they were more concentrated, but the end product is flabby and hardly drinkable. this begs the question of whether or not the brew is fresh (the price tag was placed two months before it was drank), but not much about the beer suggests that it would be much better if it was. not recommended

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Photo of KI9A
4.27/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


First exposure to this brewery, and I'm in lust with this beer.

A: Hazy, medium golden, not much head, not much lace

S: sweet malts, cream corn, and yes, herbs. Can't put a finger on what they are yet.

T: Ugh. Awesome. sweet corn, sweet malts, although not cloying, and obviously, umm, herbs. Again, can't put a finger on it. There is something that pops in the middle of the quaff, maybe corrinder, grains of paradise (?), some light black pepper. Finishes with a citric hit, orange/tangerine.

M: Very light body, medium carbonation.

D: Perfect beer for times you just don't want anything heavy, or over complex. Refreshing as hell, tough not to take down in several quaffs. Kudos for the brewery to try something light bodied, but just plain good.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.29/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks a million lukaski for the Brat Stop beer run.

Pours a nutty, medium amber haze. Very bubbly, straight white head that recedes rather quickly. Herbal-like sediment settles at the bottom. Grains of paradise, chammomile, and caracao orange peel are very prevelant in this lighty toasted malt nose. Along with other undefined herbs. Great hebal character to this beer. Not overwhelming or cloying. Light toasted malt gives off some light bready flavors. And the yeast adds a little fruit to the mix. Add the creamy, dry, and effervescant plate ake ths one great, sessionable cream ale.

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Photo of beckje01
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

This beer has a cloudy gold look somewhat see through but hazy, nice floral nose. Lots of herb in the taste with a clean nice taste in the end. Very light but in a rather good way. Would be very nice in the summer time, but this tasting is in the winter.

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Photo of tjkurz
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

My buddy brought one of these over for me. Bottle poured into pint glass big head, nice lacing. Yellow murky - sediment suspends. Smells citrus - lemon - clean. Tastes as advertised herb - spice highlights on an otherwise clean tasting beer. Mouthfeel lots of carb, not really creamy. This is a nice change of pace - something different - the spice wasn't overpowering so I found it very drinkable but really kept my interest. Pleasant surprise.

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Photo of Rennpferd
4.02/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured a pale straw color. It was fairly clear with very little activity. It started with a nice frothy one finger head that quickly shrank away.

It had a very subtle smell. Light undertones that mixed well. Malt with buttery aspects and a nice mild mix of some herb, perhaps lavender or something similar.

A perfectly balanced taste of buttery malt, corn adjunct and whatever that herb is (perhaps all-spice). The herbal part really cuts down the buttery taste and makes this a beer worth savoring. It had a nice light body that had an alcohol tang in the finish.

This is a really drinkable beer. Everything about it tied together well. I could sit around and drink two or three of these in a sitting.

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Photo of Pbomb
3.57/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The color is golden and a bit cloudy. There is a small white head after you pour. The beer has a light hoppy/floral, citrus, and ginger scent along with some other unidentifiable herbs. The taste is the same, but not very powerful. There is a little carbonation, and some bitter endnotes. Overall, the beer is not complex, nor is it spectacular...but it's good and drinkable.

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Photo of KeefD
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one in a variety sixer from Amy's Cheese and Wine in Stanley, Wisconsin. It was one of 6 Wisconsin beers I've never had, sampled over the weekend. Review is from notes I took Friday and Saturday May 9th and 10th

I noticed there were some nice remnants in the bottle so I poured 3/4 of this ale slowly into a pint glass, swished the remaining 1/4 in the bottle and topped it off creating a marvelous head.

Hazy golden-yellow in color. Much like a Heffe.

Smell is sweet, citrusy, and malty and taste is the same. It starts out dry but get fruity and spicy as it warms. No alcohol can be detected at all, as the ABV is quite low. At the end, the flavor turns citric, mostly orange and definite hints of coriander, probably the main "spice" added to this beer. Mouthfeel is totally creamy, very little carbonation but a delicate, nice body.

This thing is so easy to drink, goes down smooth, taste is good, and it's an all around good beer... yet somewhat average. It's nothing that would blow your mind, but would be a great sixer to have on a hot summer's day. There are some interesting things going on in this beer that I haven't been used to. I like it, but I'm not sure why. Just an interesting flavor and good balance.

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Photo of Strix
3.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pale color, little head.

Aroma is flowery and spicey.

Taste is citrusy, flowery, and spicey, quite nice. A lot of coriander in there. A cream ale with flavor.

Light mouthfeel.

I kind of like it. It finishes kind of plain, but it's well balanced with a blend of pleasant, light tastes. This beer is among South Shore's more interesting selections (interesting in a good way, that is).

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sun-splashed buttercup gold with a storm of fine particles swirling within. I can't think of any colorless herbs, so I must be looking at yeast. The wool white cap is small and firm and isn't the world's best lace maker. A sudsy sheet is seen on the glass opposite once the beer falls with drinking.

There's no question that 'ale with herbs added' is an accurate description. The unidentified herbs and spices don't overpower the nose, but mingle well with the beer itself. Coriander is definitely present, and I'll go with ginger and maybe even a tiny pinch of cardamom. I like the way this one smells. It's both different and good.

The same could be said for the flavor, although the underlying amber ale is nothing to shout about. Good points are a delicious mix of spices and a perfect balance between spices and beer. The only bad point is a grainy base beer that could stand a little more malty sweetness, especially if it hopes to be taken seriously as a cream ale.

Hops provide a fair amount of bitterness without providing much flavor. That's okay, Herbal Cream Ale was brewed to be a showcase for the herbs and spices anyway. I have to give South Shore credit for brewing outside the box and for pulling off a beer that most would never attempt. The flavor is growing on me as the ounces pass and I'm now comfortable choosing the taste score that popped into my head after the first sip.

The mouthfeel is decent without being a standout. More malt would fill it out even more and would give it that lush creaminess that would put it over the top. The carbonation is lightly sparkly and, in that sense, matches the zestiness of the added spices.

Prior to today, I wasn't thrilled with South Shore beer. Herbal Cream Ale is an adventurous offering that does many more things right than wrong. I had a great time with it. And so should you... provided you like coriander.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
2.98/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Originally reviewed April 9, 2005. On tap at the Gitchee Gumee Brewfest 2005. The aroma made me think of being in a spice store with all the various blend of musky spices, but it was all downhill from there. The color was light golden and boring. The flavor tasted like bandaids and medicine, although I'm downright certain it was not infected, but nonetheless was obviously unpleasent. No depth and a VERY watery finish.

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Photo of granger10
3.84/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Semi hazy blondish color with a larger fluffy head that rises quick and fades quicker. Small layer of foam across the top of the liquid and tons of lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma is honeyish in sweetness with floral qualities and some fresh herbs. Very nature oriented, garden like, fresh.

Taste is similar. Honey sweet with a pale malt touch. A bit of some fresh floral hoppiness. Then lots of herbs. Maybe ginseng, maybe coriander, maybe rosemary, I'm not sure but there's a good presence there mid-palate. Finish is sweeter but very abrupt.

Body is light but holds the flavors well and the transition and level of liveliness are about right.

This was fairly drinkable and a nice beer to sip on while working on my new place. I really felt a bit energized after drinking it. I wonder what's all in this?

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up in Milwaukee at Murray's awhile back. Pours from the 12oz bottle into my glass a light sunshine/straw yellow hue that's a bit hazy along with a nice half inch of creamy white head. Aromas of really light pale malts with a nice helping of coriander and lavender. Herbal, citric and slightly spicy in the nose as well. Mellow and intriguing.

First sip brings a light sundried maltiness that's quickly met by a sweet herbal tones, especially coriander and lavender yet again. A touch of citrus, floral notes and spice in the middle, it flows down with a soft bitterness. Pretty light, refreshing and tasty really.

A light body and fast paced carbonation makes this one go down incredibly easily with a touch of creaminess as well. Nothing earth shattering here, but this would make a good brew on a hot day. I'll have to try some other South Shore brews next time I'm in Wiscosin.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. South Shore Herbal Cream Ale pours out a hazy, light yellow color with little head. Ginger and herbs in the aroma. Reminds me of the aroma of Heavyweight Two Druids. Ginger flavor with mint and herbs. A little sour. Zesty lemon. Doesn't taste much like beer, but the flavor is interesting and refreshing. Light to medium mouthfeel. I enjoyed this beer, but some drinkers may be put off by the odd herbal flavors.

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Photo of cokes
3.64/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hmmm....I think I've had this other places, only it was called ginger ale.
And in many ways, that is exactly what it sets out to be.
Pours a semi-hazy golden with a edging of white suds.
The nose is really the ringer here, with its thick blanket of lavender, crystallized ginger, rosewater, and spearmint. It smells absolutely intoxicating, it just doesn't smell anything like "beer".
Onto the taste, malt and hops exist only in chaperoning amounts. The basest of white breads and dry leaves, with a dollop of corn syrup. The herbal contributions loom obviously large, with vanilla pod, ginger, cardamon, mace, clover honey, and loudest of all, jasmine and lavender. This is akin to drinking perfume without all that smell-incongruent astringency.
The body is soda-thin, highly carbonated, but just shoves itself down the throat.
Difficult as hell to rate, as this veers mighty close to the leper malternative. But there is certainly a place for this.
Seems like the best soft drink I've ever had.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.33/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

There is nothing particularly special about the appearance of this beer but it only takes one whiff to know that you are dealing with something special.

South Shore’s Cream is definitely not for everyone but I think that it is pretty darn neat.

Its aroma smacks you upside the head with lavender, boat loads of lavender. Hints of other herbs follow including basal, coriander, a touch of cinnamon, and wheat.

The taste is as bold and unique as the nose. My overall impression is of sun dried tomatoes and basal. This beer tastes similar to the flavor of a sun dried tomato-basal cracker that I once had. I think it was a Trisket.

Mouthfeel is a touch thin but the carbonation is well balanced and it’s creamy enough to work.

Drinkability: High. They go down like popcorn at a matinee.

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Photo of pweis909
3.37/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Unusual beer with lavender scent and maybe another herb that I cannot name right now. I could see how the herbal spices might be offputting to someone who just wants to drink a beer. I was pretty skeptical, but the taste and aroma did grow on me.

This review reflects thoughts on a 6 pack of bottles consumed over the course of several days.

A-Looks like a yellow ale. No remarkable head characteristics.

S-Doesn't really smell like beer, does it? Strong lavender. Still, a little credit for being different.

T-The traditional beer characteristics (hops/malt) are unremarkable. About what I expect for a cream ale. It comes down to weather you like the herbal qualities.

M-A bit thin.

D-After my first bottle, I thought I had wasted $8, but this grew on me and I found myself looking forward to the herbal taste. Still, it reminds me of medicine more than beer. Probably not for everyone.

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Photo of murrayswine
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had my apprehensions at first, but what the hell.

Color is a basic amber gold with a mild greasy head. the spice goes right to your head and sticks hard.

The taste is mild and creamy with a lavender finish that oddly enough, is rather good.

The mouthfeel is weird the way the spice plays right with the carbonation. All in all not a bad beer to try. It's kind of girl-ish with the packaging, but that's never prevented me from drinking a beer.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cloudy, even murky appearance, dull yellow hue, very nice cap of milky white foam.
Unusual aroma, very odd mixture of yeast, cream, and citrus scents, quite a funky affair, not sure how to place this queer duck, ...lemon cream pie, that's pretty close...
How's it taste, though? Very light on the tongue, fairly smooth, minor hop play, with citrus and cream still at large in the flavor. The "herbal" part of the name I'm trying to figure out...
Thin body, short finish, but it goes down with ease...I can pass a few of these past the lips, but after a while it would get annoying, I think.

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Photo of ZAP
4.22/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The best of the South Shore lot I have tired...pours a hazy yellowish/gold similar to a hefe...excellent nose....nutmeg...ginger..cinnamon....flavor is wheat...some orange peel adds a citrus touch...creamy mouthfeel..almost has a wheat-lcracker like maltiness to it....

Very tasty and drinkable...not oversweet or spicy but loaded with I siad the best I've had from South Shore..

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Photo of Bighuge
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy pale golden tone. Slow moving carbonation noted. Very slight off white head that leaves sparse lace. Nose is really an experience. Very minty. And chocolatey. Almost like smelling mint chocolate chip ice cream. Vanilla as well. Quite sweet on the nose. Not quite as sweet on the buds as it is on the nose. There are some dry herbal leaf like tones. Maybe sage, thyme, rosemary...stuff like that. Just reminds me of herbs like that. Not saying they're all in here. A little minty and perfumey as well. Light pils like maltiness in the background. Hops provide a dryness I believe. A slight bit of a CO2 prick on the tongue. Body is about medium. A bit of an astringent aftertaste. A lingering bitterness and dryness. Not bad. Better than what I was expecting, but my opinion is that there's a little too much Herbaction going on here.

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Northern Lights Ale from South Shore Brewery
3.58 out of 5 based on 49 ratings.
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