First up the English IPA, naturally as England is the home of IPA.
- Sight - amber with a definite orange, small white head
- Smell - bitter orange peel, faint caramel
- Taste - sweet maltiness, spicy hops, mellow citrus
- Sweet - 3/5
- Bitter - 3.5/5
What a nice beer this is! Seriously, it is delicious, an excellent balance between the hops and malt, both kind of up and in your face, but neither dominating so much as to make it either sickly or like sucking lemons, there is a noticeably bitter aftertaste which I really enjoyed. A beautiful beer.
And now the American contender:
- Sight - sparkling amber, loose white head
- Smell - heavy grapefruit hoppiness (it's the Cascade!)
- Taste - In your face grapefruit, smooth marmelade background
- Sweet - 3/5
- Bitter - 4/5
Damn it I love this beer, I really pity people who can't get this beer in their neck of the woods, seriously it is such a nice IPA. The thing it has for me over most IPAs in the US is that there is far more going on than just a hop bomb. Yes there is that classically American C hop, in your face, grapefruit citrus that you expect, but the malty sweetness of the body, and a subtle boozy glow, set that off perfectly. As I say to a lot of people in the tasting room, it is like hoppy marmelade. It is interesting the number of women who tell me that don't like hoppy beer, usually after they have just tried our Pale Ale, and thus don't want to try the IPA, but love it when I eventually persuade them just to try.
There really isn't much to tell these two excellent beers apart, other than the hop varieties in use. Perhaps then Northern Lights is closer to a genuine IPA than many of the hopbominations out there in the American market because it has the extra maltiness needed to balance out the big citrus flavours. My only gripe with the St Peter's is the use of a green bottle, but that is purely because my experience here so far is that green bottles don't travel as well as brown - thinking about Pilsner Urquell here for sure, so much so I have sworn not to drink it until I am again in Prague and can have it unpasteurised, it really makes such a difference.
Now if only I could find somewhere with Northern Lights as a cask conditioned ale, who happen to have a cask of St Peter's India Pale Ale, then I would be in IPA nirvana.