Tasting Notes: Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

SHBLookingGlassPour600_editedThis week’s installment of Tasting Notes finds us reflecting on the India Pale Ale style as we take a long look at Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

Currently serving as Starr Hill’s 2018 Spring Seasonal, Looking Glass IPA is a fruity India Pale Ale that sources pronounced “notes of juicy pineapple, mango and passion fruit” from an impressive hop bill comprised of Galaxy, Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops.  Although Looking Glass (6.5% ABV, 40 IBUs) is packed with a “big hop aroma and flavor”, it remains incredibly easy-drinking “with minimal bitterness.”

Looking Glass IPA is available now and will hang around through April 2018.  You can expect to find this Seasonal brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution footprint.

Now that the background data has been properly presented, let’s gaze deeply into the Looking Glass and lose ourselves in some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Slightly hazy in appearance, this IPA presents itself as a pale golden in color with just over a finger of bubbly white foam resting on top.  When held to direct light, the golden tones take on a bit of a soft orange hue.  Although hazy, the beer avoids being ridiculously cloudy and allows the drinker to see the tiny carbonation bubbles hard at work within.  Head retention is good, falling gradually to a lasting cap that leaves an intricate web of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma:  A strong tropical wave hits the nose first with a crash of pineapple and mango.  Grapefruit zest and orange juice act as a solid foundation for those tropical notes and the hops close out with just a grace of pine.  Malts lie underneath with a subtly sweet presence of clean grain.  Mighty juicy and oh-so pleasant.

Taste:  That juiciness carries over onto the palate as Looking Glass basically comes across as a fruit bowl of mango, passion fruit, grapefruit and pineapple blended into a base of sweet orange juice.  The zest of various citrus fruits and a touch of resinous pine then surface to cut the fruitiness at the perfect moment.  The malts and yeast mingle throughout the experience to add some balancing sweetness, but otherwise they are not really players in this game.  The hops are the star, and they flex their ability to provide both a fruit-laden flavor and a subdued but present level of bitterness.

Mouthfeel:  Falling on the lighter side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation, this IPA provides an experience that is quite smooth and easy drinking.  It is nicely balanced and dry, but there is a sharp – but not harsh – jab of bitterness that creeps in near the finish.  The ABV does bring a bit of warmth to the throat at times, but it is not at all out of hand.  The aftertaste is a lingering presence of orange juice with a twist of pineapple.

Final Thoughts:  What we have here is middle ground. Looking Glass IPA has found a comfortable spot somewhere between classic American IPAs and those newfangled hazy brews that everyone is so gaga over these days.  Sure, it definitely has some characteristics of the New England/Hazy IPA: a slightly hazy appearance, a good amount of balance, and a serious burst of tropical juiciness sourced from a sublime hop bill.  With that said, it is not so hazy/cloudy/muddy that it comes across as a tall pour of orange juice in a fancy glass.  It still retains a semblance of that invigorating hop bite that many of us long for when we see the letters “IPA” or the words “India Pale Ale”.  It is there in middle.  It is a balanced and juicy not-so-filtered American IPA.  It is a more bitter, less hazy New England-style IPA.  It is the neutral ground between the two where fans of either style can come together and discuss their allegiances (like adults) over a beer that appeals to both of them.  Now that we are at a point where we are altering and adding style guidelines to accommodate changing tastes and preferences, Looking Glass IPA serves as a much-needed place to discuss where we have been and where we will go in this ever-evolving, hop-fueled realm of craft beer.  It sparks a conversation and I can certainly get behind that.  Be sure to check this one out before its Seasonal run comes to a close at the end of April.  Prost!

Starr Hill Brewery Provides a Look at its 2018 Lineup

StarrHillpourStarr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia) sent out a press release today to officially announce its 2018 Product Calendar.

Just as we do with all brewery release calendars, we have posted Starr Hill Brewery’s full 2018 Product Calendar below so that you can go over it at your own leisure.  That said, this calendar is absolutely loaded with interesting content and we would be remiss if we did not go over a few of the highlights:

  • Starr Hill will launch Front Row Golden Ale in early 2018 as the brewery’s newest Year-Round offering.  At 4.9% ABV, “this light and refreshing beer is the perfect balance of Honey malt and Cascade hops for a smooth body and clean finish.” Front Row will initially launch on draft, “followed by six-pack [of 12 oz.] bottles, this spring with a Golden Ticket Giveaway contest” – a promotion that gives fans a chance to “enter to win concert tickets and an exclusive Front Row Tour Pack of prizes.”
  • In March 2018, the brewery will introduce its new BoomBox 8-pack of 16 oz. cans.  This mixed pack will feature Front Row Golden Ale and Northern Lights IPA (four 16 oz. cans of each), “a link to free music content, and will be available year-round.”
  • Looking Glass IPA will arrive in February as the brewery’s new Spring Seasonal.  “Loaded with notes of juicy pineapple, mango and passion fruit, this IPA packs big hop aroma and flavor with minimal bitterness.”  Looking Glass IPA will replace Reviver Red IPA in the seasonal lineup, but The Hook Grapefruit Session IPA (summer), Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale (fall) and Snow Blind Doppelbock (winter) will all return in 2018.
  • The Heavy Rotation Series, “an ongoing playlist of new beer and music”, returns in 2018 “with something fresh available in 6-packs and on draft every three months.” Next year’s lineup will include 2-Tone Vanilla Porter (January), Amber Ale (March), Hibiscus Lager (June), Festie Oktoberfest Lager (September) and Dark Starr Dry Irish Stout (December).
  • Starr Hill’s All Access Series will go draft-only in 2018.  This series will feature “old favorites and new recipes developed at the Pilot Brewery & Side Stage in Roanoke.”  Releases include Denali Double IPA (January), Berliner Weisse (March), NE-Style IPA (May), a non-IPA style Roanoke Pilot Brew (July), an IPA style Roanoke Pilot Brew (September) and Little Red Roostarr (November).

Alright, that should be everything that we wanted to cover, but there is still plenty of goodness left for you to discover on the calendar below.  Give it a good look so that you are properly prepared for another great year of beer with Starr Hill in 2018.  Prost!