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Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,603 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,603
Reviews: 2,388
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.75%
Wants: 1,265
Gots: 3,474 | FT: 52
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 11,603 | Reviews: 2,388
Reviews by keithmurray:
Photo of keithmurray
3.83/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - clear amber golden color with white head

Smell - pineapple, mango, grapefruit

Taste - mango, grapefruit, pineapple, pine, hops bitterness

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, lighter end of medium carbonation, minimal sweetness, hop bitterness at the back end

Overall - decent IPA that's worth a try

Price point - $2.25/12 oz can

More User Reviews:
Photo of BillBabbitt
3.5/5  rDev -20.6%

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.

Photo of jkrich
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

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.

Photo of dpgoblejr
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
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!

Photo of ddean
4.22/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

Photo of clingy
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Classic favorite.

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
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

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
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!

Photo of Jessefromthe9
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Amazing !

Photo of OldGriz
4.93/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

Photo of Hophazzard
4/5  rDev -9.3%

I like this one. Readily available too

Photo of Naidu91
5/5  rDev +13.4%

This one sold me on west coast IPAs

Photo of Taybeh
4.5/5  rDev +2%

On tap, Into a shaker pint, at the Union Taphouse in the Gaslamp district

A: gold orange, with a minimal head (curse the bartender)
S: nice and hoppy, with some apricot, sharper citrus, some earthy floral notes too.
T: great grassy notes, some citrus pith, a bit of pale malt in the front half to provide some balance, then the end has a nice aggressive bitterness that provides some prickliness on the tongue; bright, citrus rind, and a good bite but not at all overwhelming.
Very quaffable and refreshing, with some different interesting notes to taste and enjoy....it comes together nicely.
Better on tap than what I've had from bottles back in the midwest. This is outstanding.

Photo of Riggsby
4.66/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I first drank this lovely at Stone in Escondido in 2007. At the time I was blown away by the citrus forward aspect of this beer. A couple of years later I toured the brewery just before this beer blew up in the national sense. We had a personal tour and were told they were putting 7 varieties of hops in each batch. The expen$e to make this ale was considerable. Thus the addiction began. I believe that, with my uncle, we put this beer on the map on the East coast because we were drinking at least a pallet/year. I have a set of garage doors nailed with thousands of caps to prove our consumption!! But what happened? As they grew this brew dropped off. I remember that on our West coast visit they were expanding tankage to outside fermenters. I believe this and hop shortages/prices changed this beer. Pliny on tap on the East coast, at least at Monk's, is close to what you taste in Santa Rosa. I can't say the same for Sculpin. Like a first love, she always fades with time. Thus the toying with grapefruit, kiwi, habaneros, etc to cover up the loss of what made this beer unique. Ballast boys- get back to the basics and make less so that we have "more"!

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.69/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sunkist orange with banana peel borders. The good-sized crown is the color of pineapple mousse, is at least as creamy and is twice as sticky. Foam bridges leave a gorgeous array of picture-perfect lace when they eventually rupture. The haziness imparted by yeast or hop flecks would have turned an already attractive beer into a gorgeous one. The label fish... not so gorgeous.

Ballast Point has devised a hop bill that leads to an IPA nose that is right up my lupulin lovin' alley. It's klieg light bright and is as explosively tropical fruity as they come. This may be the most mangolicious beer that I've ever smelled... short of one that actually contains mangos. Sweet orange and zesty lemon help out as well. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Sculpin tastes almost as good as it smells. The hops that were used must be some of my favorites or the beer wouldn't be this lip-smackingly delicious. I'll say Simcoe, Amarillo and... Cascade. There's no other way to get this much mango, tangerine and peach. Let's also add pink grapefruit to the orange and lemon of the nose. Talk about a bittersweet fruit salad in a glass! Pardon all the exclamation points, but this is an outstanding IPA!

The characteristics that shoot it into the stratosphere are a relatively skinny (for an IPA) malt backbone and the fact that nothing darker than pale malt is present. A few crumbles of sugar cookie are enough, because my palate wants to focus on the fresh green hop cones. This is quite possibly a 5.0 beer (for taste) immediately after bottling.

Greedy bastard that I am, I wish it was even more ridiculously hoppy. It doesn't destroy the palate, it just roughs it up a little. However, it's hard to argue with the final product. At this point, I'm reduced to nitpicking a beer that has no real faults.

The mouthfeel seemed a fraction too light in the upper half of the bottle. Thankfully, it firms up with warming and is now perfectly calibrated for rapid consumption (if one so wishes). In the end, it's lightly silky and luxurious without being overly sticky. Keeping style in mind, the score is a no-brainer.

Prior to popping the cap, I had doubts about whether Sculpin was the fifth best India pale ale in America. I still don't think it is, but it's in the top fifteen for damn sure. Ballast Point has never knocked my socks off... until now. If you love hops, hope and pray that this limited release will be brewed again.

Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of RoyalT
4.72/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

Photo of ricke
4.32/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of ExtraStout
3.3/5  rDev -25.2%
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.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.27/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of brownbeer
4.57/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

Photo of hbensinger
4.64/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving type: bottle, poured into pub glass. In South Korea of all places. I was skeptical at first thinking this might be a knock-off but as I have had the real deal recently I figured this would be a good one to have. I was not disappointed.
A- Pours a nice golden/orange color with a delicate white head that dissipates into nice lacing.

S- very floral and strong sweet scents of apricots and peaches

T- awesome. Might be a little off as I have not had a good IPA in about a month. Balanced sweetness and bitterness, great hop flavor on top of the bitterness. Aroma still knocking it out of the park.

M- Nice carbonation, not too thin. Drinks wonderfully.

O- I loved this beer when I had it in the states and literally blew my socks off when I found it over here. Just one had a smile on my face all night. This is a great beer.

Photo of daveg36
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Nothing beats fresh Sculpin. Addictively good. When it comes to IPA's Two Hearted is up there, but Sculpin has it beat, by a decent margin. Sculpin is SO drinkable and smooth. Even if you aren't an IPA drinker, you will not find this offensive.

I'll have several other really good beers, then I will be lucky and find fresh Sculpin, and nothing beats it. That's the one issue with Sculpin. Basically impossible to tell it is fresh with no clear bottled on date. I'll give you all a tip who haven't had it before, it should be very pleasant citrus flavors, but not overpowering. If there is a metallic smell or taste of any kind, it is not fresh and take it back to your retailer.

Photo of SteadySippin
4.08/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured this beer from a bottle to a chilled glass.

Appearance - Has a nice golden color with a 2 finger head when poured. Head sets to about a half finger thick with some lacing. Decent looking beer.

Smell - Hints of citrus and pine. Hops really come through on the back end of the aroma and the citrus right up front. Smells delicious.

Taste - Really nice piney bitter hop flavor which really finds its way through your entire mouth. On the citrus side of things, I taste some grapefruit with floral notes. This IPA tastes amazing. Hop presence is spot on.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and crisp. Carbonation is just right. Goes down smooth and leaves your mouth dry.

Overall - Seeing the ratings on this beer, I had to go out and get some. Glad I did, this is probably my favorite IPA to date. Great stuff.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 11,603 ratings.