Starr Hill Brewery – Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA – 12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip 6.2% abv.
Commercial Description: Starr Hill debuted Northern Lights, its first take on an American-style India Pale Ale, in 2007 when craft beer was just starting to take hold in this country. It quickly became the brewery’s best-selling beer, known for its characteristic hop blend and full-flavored bitterness. While the soul of the original Northern Lights remains, the new recipe creates a more hop-forward IPA that will be enjoyed by both long-time fans and newcomers.
I sampled this as a 12oz glass bottle full pour (packaged on 8/10/2016) into a tulip glass. Northern Lights IPA pours a clear copper with healthy, tan foam atop. There is moderate head retention and small lace on the glass edges.
The aroma brings fall leaves, dried potpourri-like orange peel, and sweet strawberry. The flavor is balanced and fairly neutral with a hefty autumn ale base met with dialed-back hop bitterness. It is fairly oily and somewhat rich-bodied. Sampling this blind, I would probably categorize this as hoppy amber ale as it doesn’t immediately have the aroma hops or assertive bitterness you might expect from American IPAs. Where is shines is in the mouthfeel – simple, extremely well-balanced bitterness, and toasted malt-forward depth.
Overall, it is very drinkable and sure to be a crowd-pleaser catering to a variety of palates. Northern Lights perhaps has not changed drastically over the years, but there is a reason it is still around.