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Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

9,419 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,419
Reviews: 2,047
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.75%
Wants: 961
Gots: 1,764 | FT: 42
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Originally named Northstar IPA. Debuted in 2005.

(Beer added by: brentk56 on 04-02-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 9,419 | Reviews: 2,047 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.14/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Re-reviewing after having a pretty different experience from the first time I tried this. My old review (and scores) are listed below for science. The difference in experience can be chalked up to one of two things: vessel and/or freshness. The first review was a 22 oz bomber that was likely about two months old. This time around, I had it out of the can marked with a Julian canning date that translates to 3/6/2014, so less than a month old. Oh, I also poured it into a Speigelau IPA glass this time, so I suppose that could have had an effect as well.

Appearance - The color and translucency remains about the same--apricot and orange peel colored with lemon flesh highlights. However, this time around there is a bit less haze going on. I can't help but wonder if that's the result of being a month fresher or the vessel. The head is different as well, this time a towering three finger head with moderate retention that leaves pocking as it dissipates and sticky lacing that leaves moderate webbing around the sides of the glass.

Smell - The same tropical fruits are present as the last time around: pineapple and mango, as well as the balancing presence of cracker-like pale malt, but this time around, the citrus component--with both grapefruit pith and lemon zest--is much more forward, giving the aroma a pop that I don't remember it having before. It practically climbs out of the glass towards my nose. Definitely have to increase the score for aroma.

Taste - I will say this--while the smell seemed to have suffered with time, the taste of this IPA held up quite well. That part seems to degrade much more gracefully than the aroma. Big notes of ripe mango and grapefruit flesh as well as some more herbal grassiness to provide some depth alongside the tropical and citric fruit notes. As before, the grain element is pretty well hidden until it warms up a little bit, at which point there is a subtle bready component that provides a bit of backbone to the otherwise pungent fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - This may be a function of the more engulfing aroma, but it feels like it drinks a bit juicier than I remember. Carbonation also seems a bit more active, which is perhaps not a surprise, given that cans are known to have less CO2 seepage than bottles, but it's possible that's in my head. Not sure if it's actually a detectable difference.

Overall, an IPA that benefits greatly with freshness. Especially in the smell. In spite of previously saying I wouldn't likely get this beer again, when I came across it in cans, my curiosity got the better of me, and I was rewarded with a very fresh sixer for my troubles. Given the huge improvement in my experience, I had no choice but to update my review. I look forward to finishing the other cans.

===

Old review:

Enjoyed on 9/13/2013 out of a brown 22 oz bomber marked clearly with an "best by" date of 11/9/2013. I remember reading somewhere that Ballast Point uses a 120-day lead time on their freshness dating, so best guess, this was bottled in mid-July. Poured into a 16 oz nonic style tumbler.

Appearance (4.25) - A gorgeous and prototypical IPA, with a hazy but translucent body the color of apricot and orange peel, with highlights the color of lemon flesh. The light behind it really makes for a refreshing-looking beer. The body is topped by a one-finger head with lots of medium-sized suds that slowly burst, leaving pocking. Retention is low-to-moderate, and the lacing is silky looking, but clings well.

Smell (3.75) - Dominated by tropical fruits--pineapple, mango, some faint bits of grapefruit, and an almost hidden element of the grain bill peeks through, very faint, like lightly toasted white bread. Upon subsequent inhalations, I think I can pick out some lemon zest as well, but it's very fleeting. Very enticing, but I wish it was a little more intoxicating and aromatic. Seems like I'm having to work a tad to get all the characteristics--perhaps because we're at about the two-month mark for this beer? Hard to say without a super-fresh version to compare.

Taste (4.0)- Very quaffable IPA, especially for one hiding a 7% ABV. The mango is predominant here, with bitterness, like grapefruit rind and even some hint of young garden greens balances out with the tropical fruitiness. Lemon zest is a little more obvious here than with the smell. And the malt becomes a bit more detectable with temperature increase.

Mouthfeel (4.0) - A tad on the juicy side, with a light body and carbonation shading on the low side of moderate. Clean, dry finish.

Overall (3.96), a very tasty IPA, but I was expecting to be blown away based on what I've heard about this beer. If it distributed to my area, I would likely grab it from time to time for a change-up, but since it's a bit of a hassle to get my hands on, I probably won't be going out of my way to procure more any time soon.

LambicPentameter, Mar 31, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of Naidu91
5/5  rDev +13.4%

This one sold me on west coast IPAs

Naidu91, Sep 22, 2014
Photo of oberon
4.53/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great to get my hands on some of this stuff (thanks Roger at Bestway).Poured into a small tulip glass a clear light golden with a clingy 1/2 finger white head.Holy smokes the aromas are just awesome!A mix of big citrus and tangerine just jump out at ya,a hint of caramel/biscuit is there but its a little faint but hey who cares the hop profile is frickin great.Fresh hop flavors abound with tangerine sticking out the most,its lemony with a bit of mango and overripe pineapple,the sweet biscuit malt base does not hide itself as it holds on thru the duration of the glass.Iam not sure if I have had a beer of the style with such fruity hop complexity,wow this is worthy of the rating.

oberon, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of ddean
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance-
Golden yellow, which isn't my favorite color. I'd like more amber or orange in my IPAs. Could be more clear, but I like the frothy head that others have described: it builds quickly and then dissipates right after you have had time to take it in.

Smell-
Here's an interesting one. I get lots of hops, then some sulfur (rotten eggs, skunk?), along with some grapefruit and other citrus that others have put forth. You might think that would be disgusting, but it is quite interesting as a matter of fact, so high marks.

Taste-
I was a little let down here, but it is still quite good. Thin to me, because the grapefruit and the hops dominate. I don't get the pine that others describe, and that is my favorite characteristic of my favorite IPAs (Lagunitas Maximus, Stone Ruination). A little lemon and apricot later on. Definitely good, but there is not much of a counterbalance in the taste.

Mouthfeel-
Smooth, crisp, very nice. I like the superlingering hops. I'm in full agreement with my raving colleagues.

Drinkability-
Goes down nice and easy. The smooth crispness makes me think I'd have no problem reaching for more, but the taste doesn't blow me away quite enough to not want to try other brews in a pub.

In summary, very good stuff, just not the most balanced IPA ever to me. Like the crisp, strong hops, but I want more pine and caramel.

ddean, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of Dekhar
4.96/5  rDev +12.5%

Dekhar, Aug 30, 2014
Photo of RoyalT
4.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - This came out a gorgeous darkish-orange in color with incredible clarity and a wonderful sheen. The head was perfectly perched on an easy pout. As it slowly went down it left a thick film all along my mug. This is a real beauty shop.

Smell - Hop damn! This almost has to be dry-hopped because the hops are so fresh and pure like you just picked them from the field. The nice pine resin, which usually overshadows all other hop aromas, here is mated perfectly with some monstrous grapefruit and light orange peel. These smells all come together in a raunchy hop bouquet that leaves little chance for the light malt base to be appreciated.

Taste - Surprisingly the hops aren't toned down too much at the taste. This is a hop-burping factory I can tell already. The orange comes on much bigger now and really smoothes out the flavors.

I'm actually going to give a thumbs up to the grain bill here. Most people drinking this won't even notice it because the hops are so big, but the grain knew how and when to take a backseat here without being completely absent. Although I didn't get much from it at the nose, you could crank this down to 20 IBUs and have a nice-tasting beer. The grain is soft, very fresh like the hops, not grossly sweet, and give off a wonderfully light almost cereal flavor.

Mouthfeel - This is medium-bodied, maybe a tad lighter, with some smart carbonation and a very smooth character in between the cheeks. Although I enjoy a bitter beer, what I appreciated so much about this mouthfeel is that for all the hops it wasn't bitter at all. This made it amazingly easy to guzzle - hahaha! Usually a beer with such a huge hop profile takes a week to finish but the lack of bitterness here kept the suds flowing.

Drinkability - I kind of touched on it when reviewing the mouthfeel but boy o boy was this an easy-drinking ale. I don't think I've ever had a beer with this much hop flavor go down this easily. It is one of a kind and a must-try for any IPA enthusiast. This raises a standard that few if any will ever match.

Comments - I've handed out a lot of 4.5s in my day and more than my share of 5.0s, but as far as Drinkability goes this is the most drinkable hop bomb I've ever had. For the first time in almost 2,000 reviews I wish I could assign a 6.0 rating to something. You really have to drink this beer to believe it.

RoyalT, Oct 31, 2010
Photo of aszatk01
4/5  rDev -9.3%

aszatk01, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of Bmm281
3/5  rDev -32%

Bmm281, Aug 30, 2014
Photo of legalag11
5/5  rDev +13.4%

legalag11, Jun 17, 2014
Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -9.3%

DanGeo, Jun 16, 2013
Photo of Smokesnotes
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

Smokesnotes, Sep 02, 2014
Photo of tectactoe
4.26/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to GetMeAnIPA for this one... I've heard very good things and I've been ISO Sculpin for a long time. Pours a somewhat dull, golden-yellow color with a few orange and light-amber tints. Moderate haze throughout, topped off with a creamy and fine eggshell colored head - decent retention and some nice chunky lacing is left behind.

Bringing this one to my nose reveals a hop-garden barrage with two huge aromas that stand out above all others: grapefruit and florals. The grapefruit is pungent, semi-sweet, and juicy on the nose with some mild bitterness coming in as a peel or pith type aroma. Some other fruits may include pineapple and mango, but grapefruit is far and away the star of the show, here - this beer is a grapefruit bomb. The hops are also highly floral - this one smells much like a rose garden; perfume, roses, leaves, wet flowers. A touch of white pepper sits quietly in the back. After smelling this beer, I am reminded of a hometown favorite of mine, Two Hearted.

After an aroma like that, how can this beer not taste great? Medium bodied with moderate carbonation make for a slick mouth feel that glides across the palate as the hops work their magic. The two stand-out aromas, to no surprise, are the heaviest in the taste as well. It's a grapefruit bomb, full of both the juicy insides and the bitter peel. Some more mango , pineapple, and tropical fruity goodness rummage and couple with a light sweetness via the malt.

Floral, perfumy, leafy, grassy hops round out the edges and send a wave of bitterness across the back of the tongue in no time. Once again, the malt keeps the bitterness in tune without being distracting. The hop flavors seems to take over the citrus flavors and eventually dominate near the end. This beer is a fine example of simplicity done well and balance executed very nicely. Slight pithy and floral aftertaste as the bitterness fades into naught.

This beer reminded me of Two Hearted in a lot of ways (though not quite on the same level, but perhaps I'm slightly biased). They even both have a fish on the label. Being a huge fan of Two Hearted, I can clearly see why the West Coast loves this stuff. Simple, yet excellently crafted and executed. A super-drinkable IPA done right.

tectactoe, Feb 07, 2013
Photo of Hoppin_mad
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

Hoppin_mad, May 03, 2014
Photo of ricke
4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Yellow, almost straw-colored (great to see an IPA of this magnitude that's actually a pale ale). A rather thin white head settles in a moderate pace.

S: Massive hop aromas. Plenty of exotic fruits, but not so dominated by grapefruits as many other hop forward beers are. Instead here are generous amounts of mango and passion fruits (along with the grapefruit of course). Here is also a very pleasant smell of elder flowers. Some pine needles and hop resins. Biscuity malts are present as well.

T: Replicates the smell with very fresh hop flavors all around. Exotic fruits (grapefruit, mango, passion fruit) mix with elder flowers and hop resins. A semi-sweet crisp and biscuity malty backbone. The finish is really bitter with notes of pine-needles and, citric notes and grassy hop notes.

M: Medium to semi-full body, nice sticky mouthfeel. Crisp carbonation.

D: This is a great IPA with a massive and very tasty hop profile. Still, it manages to stay very balanced. The malts are almost perfectly suited for the hop centered flavors.

ricke, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of Max3
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Max3, May 17, 2014
Photo of ExtraStout
3.28/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden (with orange highlights) with a foamy white head that lasts and coats the sides of the glass throughout. Some active carbonation.

Flavor is sweet and bitter as anticipated. Sweet fruits, like apricot maybe, factor into the maltier-than-expected taste, complimenting the piney hop character. Some astringency and hop spiciness at the end, followed by a touch of tongue parching.

Refreshingly different and drinkable.

ExtraStout, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of DavyJones
4.5/5  rDev +2%

DavyJones, May 15, 2012
Photo of TCHopCraver
4.22/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split a bomber with a fellow BA. Received from another fellow BA. Thanks, buddy! Reviewed from notes on 3/20/10.

A: Poured golden-yellow with a pure-white 2-finger head into an oversized wine glass. The lacing was really sticky and looked like the Rocky Mountains in a glass. Head retention was good.

S: Off the charts fresh. It had a citrus-fruit, rose-floral hop profile that was nicely balanced by a golden malt and slight honey bouquet that filled my nose with fresh spring time happiness. This really made my tongue excited to experience this elixir.

T: It doesn't quite have the impact on my palate that the bouquet had on my olfactory. There is more of an earthy, coppery profile than the fresh, citrus taste at which the smell had hinted. It is good and quite fresh, but not quite as enlightening as I thought it would be after smelling it.

M: Pretty standard for an IPA, I would say. It was light to medium bodied in the mouth, with a good, crisp, dry finish.

D: Although I was a little disappointed with the taste, this beer is eminently drinkable. At 7% a.b.v., I could definitely tip back several of these if the price tag wasn't sooo high. Generally speaking, I enjoyed this brew, but I'm not sure if it really stands out as far from other good American IPAs as the average review score bears out.

TCHopCraver, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of OhioBobcat
4.5/5  rDev +2%

OhioBobcat, Aug 28, 2013
Photo of MadScientist
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

MadScientist, Feb 18, 2013
Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

CavemanRamblin, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of Zakk
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Zakk, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of jono0101
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

jono0101, Dec 11, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.55/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Kickin' off IPA-athon part deux with busternuggz.

Semi-rusty gold color with a white crown that remains a thin layer throughout. Pale like I like my pale ales to be.

The nose on this beer is extraordinary. It takes about one second to know this is what beer is about. Blasting an orgy of juicy tropical fruits in your nose and all over your face. Mango. Apricot. Hints of pineapple and pine loom about.

The pine notes come out a bit more in the taste. Still, the fruity citrus pounds forward. Bitter orange, apricot, and a slight grassiness. It's medium-bodied, crisp, and dry with a refresing bitterness that is forward and delicate at the same time. Like a sexy doctor giving you a rectal exam. It's insane how they made this beer perform like this.

Loved it. Try it.

brownbeer, May 30, 2010
Photo of npala86
4.5/5  rDev +2%

npala86, Jun 25, 2014
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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 9,419 ratings.