Category Archives: IPAs

Northern Lights IPA – Brew Review

Happy Friday internet! A few hours separate you from 2 days of rest, relaxation, coke binges, whatever floats your boat. To kick off the weekend, enjoy today’s Brew Review: Star Hill Brewery’s Northern Lights IPA.

Northern Lights IPA 1

Star Hill Brewery was founded in Charlottesville, VA in 1999 and their beers can be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states. Their Dark Starr Stout has won 6 awards, including 3 gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. It’s like the Michael Phelps of beer, except with fewer Subway endorsement deals and bong hits.

Northern Lights IPA pours a orange-amber color with a tan head. The smell is a mixture of sweet malt, floral hops, and tangy citrus. Taste-wise, it has a decent amount of hop bitterness, a little citrus, and a malty finish. The beer smooth, crisp and refreshing.

Northern Lights 2

Should I Drink It?

Overall, Starr Hill’s Northern Lights is a decent IPA. I don’t know if it’s the number of robust beers I’ve been drinking lately, but this one was a little subdued for my taste. All the standard elements that make an IPA great were present and blended well together, but I wish it had just a little more “oomph”.

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Maximus – Brew Review

Laguintas Maximus 3

Nerd alert: I’m huge Roman history buff. I have a Julius Caesar quote tattooed on my side, and I routinely talk about the pitfalls of emperor Nero to men at bars who are trying to get in my pants. So before I begin with the beer Maximus, I felt it necessary to share that Maximus Decimus Meridius from the movie Gladiator is not based on a real Roman, although Marcus Aurelius (emperor Dumbledore) and Joaquin Phoenix were real people in history. There was a different Maximus, Fabius Maximus, who is most famous for the Fabian strategy, an evasive military tactic used for centuries, including by George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Now you know how the guys at the bar feel. At least you haven’t spent $26 pumping drinks into me.

Which brings me to my beer of the day: Maximus Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company. Located in Petaluma, California, Lagunitas is one of the fastest growing breweries in the US. Their Maximus Ale was originally introduced in 1996 as a jacked-up version of their flagship IPA, and the company warns that the beer’s so hoppy it could remove the enamel from your teeth.

Laguintas Maximus 2

goodbye pearly whites

Maximus pours a dark amber color with a frothy off-white head that fades away into a thin film. The smell is hoppy upfront, with some clean citrus and caramel malt notes. The bitterness from the hops is grassier in the taste, almost like pine, but well-balanced with the milder orange peel and sweet malt flavors. It’s smooth and creamy with just a little bit of carbonation, and less of an astringent, alcohol finish then I would expect from an 8.2% ABV beer.

Should I Drink It?

Laguintas 1

Maximus definitely lives up to its name; it’s got a lot of bold flavors that will hit your palate in ways most beers don’t. It’s pretty hoppy, but I don’t think it’ll destroy your tooth enamel, at least no more than Coke does. So if you like standard IPAs and aren’t afraid of a brew that packs a punch, you should take on this beer.

Or, if you want to approach it like Fabius Maximus, refuse to meet in a pitched battle and hope to wear it out in a war of attrition.

I’ll shut up now.

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Snake Dog IPA – Brew Review

Snake Dog IPA

Snake Dog IPA is one of several IPA’s brewed by Flying Dog Brewery. Originally started in Aspen, Colorado in 1990, all production was moved to Fredrick, Maryland back in 2008, which right down the road from where I live (so you can now stalk me. You’re welcome.). Flying Dog beers are pretty easy to point out for two reasons; the trippy label art done by Ralph Steadman (illustrator of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), and the make-your-grandma-faint names like “Doggie Style” and “Raging Bitch”. The brewery has some clout in the beer world as well, and their Doggie Style was named “Best Pale Ale in America” at the Great American Beer Festival in 1991.

What is an IPA?

Yes I have a framed photo of Michael Jordan. Space Jam changed my life.

Yes I have a framed photo of Michael Jordan. Don’t hate.

The IPA, or India Pale Ale, was first brewed during the British colonization of India. The beer sent to the troops would spoil (if you’ve ever had a skunked beer, that’s what they were dealing with), so brewers discovered by adding more hops and alcohol to the beer, both of which have preservative qualities, the stuff would last a lot longer.

In the US, breweries have taken the humble IPA to a new level, playing and adjusting the recipe to create stronger and hoppier concoctions.

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of IPAs or other Pale Ales, because the hops tend to make the stuff pretty bitter. Maybe its my delicate lady taste buds, or my weak female constitution, but they’re a little too strong for me.  However, as far as IPAs go, Snake Dog is a pretty good one.

Snake Dog IPA 2

The color was a bright  amber, with a minimal foamy white head. The smell is bright and fruity, ripe with citrus scents like tangerine and grapefruit, as well as hints of yeast. The taste is sweet and malty, with more citrus, as well as the traditional IPA hoppy bitterness. The ABV of this beer is pretty high (7.2%) so you do get a little bit of that alcohol flavor at the end, but the beer is dry, crisp and refreshing.

Should I Drink It?

The Snake Dog IPA is true to the American style of India Pale Ales and a good choice if you like this style of beer. If you have petite, estrogen-laden taste buds like me, you may want to stick with something a little less bitter.

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