Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,280 Reviews
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Reviews: 2,280
Hads: 12,305
Avg: 4.39
pDev: 22.32%
Wants: 1,357
Gots: 4,148 | FT: 50
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:
Beer added by: brentk56 on 04-02-2006

Originally named Northstar IPA. Debuted in 2005.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 2,280 | Hads: 12,305
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of OldGriz
4.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'll never forget my first taste of Sculpin. It was a magical beer moment for me.

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Photo of BillBabbitt
3.5/5  rDev -20.3%

I know this a very highly rated IPA, but I am not a fan. I have tried this beer on tap and out of a bottle. It pours a beautiful golden color with a rich creamy head , but I find the aftertaste a bit harsh.

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Photo of jkrich
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Poured a hazy, golden-orange hue with a sustained, foamy white-head. This seems to be the typical American IPA look. I could not locate a freshness date but there was a number code on the label that may indicate the ale was bottled on the 213 day of 2014.

A very fresh and bittersweet fruity aroma greets the olfactory upon opening the bottle, along with a faint piney, bitter aroma.

The flavor has a surprisingly soft and mellow, citrusy start with a lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue. Very flavorful, but not what I expected given the reviews and especially the aroma. Of course, the bottle is a few months old.

Light to medium bodied with a somewhat thin mouth feel. The citrusy bitterness does linger on the palate.

This is another fine example of the American IPA: full flavored, high in alcohol but so very drinkable.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Gold in color with tiny bubbles rising to the surface. Off white head that froths around the top and settles to a slight layer of bigger bubbles. Lacing is evident along the edges of glass as it slides down. Smell is of pine and some citrus is found in the background. Tastes of pine, grass, citrus and maybe some bitter hops are dancing on the tongue. Smooth on the palate and slightly creamy with the bitterness finishing it off. Overall, a fantastic IPA to indulge upon!

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Photo of ddean
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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Photo of Veeblefetzer
4.46/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had a six pack of bottles, purchased in San Clemente. Very nice IPA. Citrus smells, lovely color. Nice hop taste with overtones of grapefruit. Very nicely balanced IPA.

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Photo of moundbz
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

looks great, smells great, tastes great with a bitter after taste.

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Photo of Mmart802
4.73/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lots of flavors of pine, citrus and hops. Bold taste all the way through.

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Photo of clingy
5/5  rDev +13.9%

Classic favorite.

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Exceptional west coast IPA....but the Grapefruit version is better by far

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Photo of chriskelly
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Excellent IPA. One of my top 10 go to IPAs.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at another hipster heaven - Chapter One, Santa Ana, CA.

Did Raul just get himself in on this? Yep, it looks like he did!

Raul done had himself Sculpin many times over like Lindsay Lohan has had rehab visits. Only difference between Sculpin and that podunk ginger is that Raul will keep up with his daily Sculpin regime.

Clean, crisp, and devilishly intoxicating. Line another one up. Yep!

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Photo of UTPharm2012
3/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poor man's Cigar City Jai Alai imo

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Photo of Joegot4
4.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic IPA! The gateway beer to hop addiction!

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Photo of Jessefromthe9
5/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of Austinkrat
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great, balanced IPA. Just the right sweetness too balance the hops. May be the ideal IPA.

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Photo of tmbgnicu
4.91/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

If I am ever on deathrow, and I am allowed a last meal and can choose the beverage- I want a fresh bottle or can of Sculpin to be my drink. I grabbed a six pack of cans locally with a canned date of 5-20-14- just over two weeks old. The first six pack of Sculpin I had was about 3 months old, and boy was there a difference. The fresh Sculpin was the best ipa I have ever had. It was crisp and clean with the perfect notes and bitterness. West coast IPAs- fanfreakingtastic.

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Photo of krbrevard
4.57/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this from Beer Run in Charlottesville, VA. From what I gather, it was pretty fresh.

A: On its cross country quest, tons of carbonation remain. Nice half inch head, golden copper color.
S: Wow- very floral. Some citrus and pine as well. Could possibly be the best i've smelled on a beer.
T: Very nice foretaste, not overpowering. Back end has all the components of the smell and i'm left with a subtle piney and bitterness which i've grown to love in this style of beer. No Alcohol taste whatsoever.
M: Very smooth, crisp, carbonation is very refreshing.
O: I am very impressed with BP. Had Big Eye a few years ago and definitely enjoyed it. The next time i'm in SD i will be coming to the brewery for sure!

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Photo of MisterKilderkin
4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm not a huge IPA fan, but this is a fantastic representation of the style

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Photo of Hophazzard
4/5  rDev -8.9%

I like this one. Readily available too

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Photo of timfelix
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I have had it on tap and from the bottle. Similar tasting experience. Lots of hop flavors throughout, while staying smooth even with quite a bite from all those hops. No malt noticed. If you like hops, this is excellent. But as another reviewer noted, there are other very good IPAs that will cost a lot less.
Full disclosure: I find many IPAs to be so hoppy I think I could bite into a fresh hop and chase it with cold water and get the same taste.

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Photo of ColoradoPhil
4.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Omg! this is good. I tried the Grapefruit which may be tastier for the delicious grapefruit added. but this is great world class beer no doubt. I could drink this everyday as a favorite but could drink a number of fine Microbrew IPA's everyday.. for $5.00 less a six pack. This is premium beer, but there are a lot of great beers to be had for $10.00 a six pack. We truly are in a golden age of great American craft beers! Life is good.

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Photo of ZOMBzak
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Outstanding IPA. I consistently put this in the fridge. Goes well with everything and is always my "go-to" beer. Simply put it's just DAMN good!

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Photo of RileyTippet
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very tasty. Great amount of hoppiness and backbone to carry it. Not sure why it's so dang expensive though.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,280 ratings.