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Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,306 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 2,306
Hads: 12,489
Avg: 4.38
pDev: 22.37%
Wants: 1,375
Gots: 4,348 | FT: 46
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: 2,306 | Hads: 12,489
Photo of jufheil
1/5  rDev -77.2%

Really, this beer is not good. Aftertaste is like fish, its namesake. Not crisp, not refreshing, not sessionable like a west coast IPA. I don't know how it even falls in this class. Its bad fruity with a bad aftertaste.

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Photo of jamex
1.98/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I used to really love Sculpin. I would periodically stop by the Scripps Ranch brewery and fill up a growler at least once a month. Many times I'd stop by the brewery just to get a pint. Life was good, and I was excited to have such a world class brew within a few minutes of my house.

Then something changed. I'm not sure what - the hops, the blending, whatever - I'm not a brewer so I can't explain it. I'd say it happened about a year ago. The aroma changed. The taste drastically changed. It just wasn't the beer I fell in love with. Tropical notes all but vanished. The bitterness was heightened. The fresh piney hints turned sour and "urinal-like."

Maybe my tastes have changed. I guess it's possible. Maybe I need to visit the Home Brew Mart location for a final test since all of this ranting is based from multiple, different growlers and pints at the Scripps tasting bar. But each pint and growler fill pushes me away. Last night I did the unthinkable: drain poured a 1/2 growler of this mess.

If there really is an alternate recipe, please BP go back to your roots. Let me once again give this golden drink the score it deserves.

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Photo of markh814
1.98/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

I will be the first to review this beer honestly.

It pours cloudy with an off white soapy head (how anyone could rate appearance any higher is beyond my imagination)

smell wasnt bad but wasnt great. hoppy if you like that but nothing special. i would say average.

taste? over complicated, involved, and not very likeable IPA.

mouthfeel medium body with a strange full/bitter aftertaste

overall? this is exactly what beer shouldnt be. It is like a 6 year old was given some beer ingrediants and tried to make it....or like an adult tried to outsmart the beer drinking population and failed miserably.
why must IPA brewers overcomplicate beer? its like they want you to slowly sip it, say you've had enough, but then you can be proud you tasted something obscure.
i rathe enjoy what i am drinking and when i am finished i can have another if i am still thirsty.

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Photo of mactrail
2.3/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Hops, or more precisely, grapefruit pith, takes over the taste totally. There is just nothing else to say.

If you like this particular hop profile, to the exclusion of every other taste, you'll think this is great. To me it's a stab to the root of my tongue. It's not a beer flavor, it's a chemical link to a very specific pain receptor.

Nice aroma, though. The usual orangey amber in the pint glass. I thought I would try this again since it's been a couple of years. But I arrive at the same conclusion: total bitterness. First glass out of the keg at Quality Social in San Diego. Couldn't be fresher.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.66/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

In the latest installment of "Angrytrator goes to the beer store," I'm re-reviewing Sculpin. I haven't bought this beer in over a year, because it's simply not worth $9 / bomber or $7 / pint.

But a $2.50 12oz bottle is quite fair. Since they just hit the area, I bought a sixer.

A: Pours a hazy burnt orange with lazy bubbles up the glass. Has 1.5" of off-white head with decent retention, but it recedes eventually into a light film on the brew and a moderate collar around the edges. Leaves a little sudsing down the sides of the glass.

S: Hmm. I remember this having a beautiful tropical citrus bouquet. This has barely any nose to it, despite pouring it into a snifter to enhance the aroma. I detect some grapefruit and a mild pale malt nose, but that's about it.

T: A nice blend of grapefruit, lemon pith, and apricot. Not much malt flavor, though there is a little sweetness on the finish. I seem to remember Sculpin being drier. Some pine, particularly in the aftertaste and exhalation. But nothing substantial or flavorful. Perhaps my palate is damaged, but I really don't taste a lot here.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Carbonation is creamy, not crisp. The flavor (what there is of it) is clean with no lingering bitterness or resin.

D: I don't know what's going on here. This has all the hallmarks of being an old bottle, but the bottling size (and its first appearance into our market) suggest it is fresh. Either they really screwed up the recipe, or some distribution snafu took place. Either way, this is a pretty big fall from grace. Ballast Point, feel free to start dating your IPAs so I can give these a fair shake.

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Photo of Strat58cat
2.69/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I'm way in the minority on this, and I know it. Sculpin IPA in my opinion is an unpleasant ale that I won't willingly drink again. I'm not going to drink Bud Black Crown again either unless it's forced on me by circumstances, but I have to admit I would probably enjoy Black Crown more. I respect Ballast Point, but they've gone for the unpleasant aromas and flavors that I find in some IPAs. I don't care for it, that's all. Imho, Sculpin is a fishy IPA. Completely overrated. Many better choices.

Looks fine. Clear and notably light amber in color. The head suds up well but does not retain at all. Fades away to a thin film quickly, especially for an IPA. Nice white color while it lasts, which isn't long. Little lacing.

The aroma starts off well with full grapefruit, but then there is something off. Underneath, there is a little bit of a fishy smell.

The taste starts off well with grapefruit, but then that fishiness is very apparent. It's a fishy aftertaste. No. They tried to go light on the malt to bring out the hops. At least they named it for a fish, which is appropriate.

The feel is okay. It's a very light bodied IPA, by design. They just messed up the hops or the malt in this one and ended up with a fishy aftertaste. Notably oily finish.

Overall, it's not as good as many others in the IPA space. My money is on several excellent Stone ales at this price point. I can do a lot better by just picking up a Lagunitas - or even a Rebel - for less money anywhere in Southern California. This IPA is very overrated. Other Ballast Point brews I've tried are very good, but not this one. The emperor has no clothes. Professional reviews have gone nuts over this for no good reason.

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Photo of Corker444
2.75/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 22oz bottle. Used Pint Glass.

Had med to light foam not more than a quarter inch. Was light on carbonation. Poured light orange and had decent citrus notes. A lot of veg/bell pepper which I was not expecting.

Palate was smooth but not real lengthy. Was clean on finish and that did not last long.

It was good but not something I will go out of my way for over and over.

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Photo of Steasy66
2.8/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12oz into snifter, thanks to Scalene for sending this in 'Everything Local BIF'. Bottle says 'Enjoy By 080912'
A- Golden, lacy 1 finger head.
S- Big citrus, a bit dank
T- Very bitter, but not much flavor. Where is the citrus from the aroma?
M- Good carb, good consistency.
O- Was really excited for this one, but its simply not good. Everything seemed promising, but it just doesn't taste good. Really bitter with very little flavor and not much balance.

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Photo of n2185
2.87/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Beer stores around here just got this one in, so I assume it's fresh. No way of confirming though.

A: Pours a clear, honey orange with a finger of white head which quickly recedes into a ring with little lacing.

S: Grapefruit and pineapple up front with some pine on the finish. Quite nice.

T: Some bitter grapefruit up front followed by lots of resiny pine and bitterness. Lots and lots of bitterness on the finish, lingering around well after the beer is gone.

M: Medium body and carbonation, there is an oily character to it that coats my mouth along with the bitterness.

D: Drinkability is alright, though definitely hurt by the bitterness and oily character hurt it. Overall, not a terrible beer, but not particularly good either. It is extremely overpriced though at nearly $10 for a bomber when I can get sixers of better IPAs for less.

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Photo of MusicaleMike
2.95/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

"Best By" date of 12/22/12.

Body is a bright, hazy golden orange hue. Two fingers worth of white head, which dissipates to a very thin layer quickly, yet leaving a decent lacing on the sides of the glass.

Aroma is not my favorite. Hop character is somewhat grassy and herbal. I know that it may just be something of a fashionable thing to get American IPA's to have a citrus, tropical fruit aroma, but I find it more pleasant. Some cracker maltiness in the background.

Again, I am not too impressed with this beer's taste either. I know that people swear by this IPA, but I could just have some aversion to whatever hops they are using here. It is well-balanced, with only a slight lean towards bitter. Floral hops, slight honeysuckle, biscuit malts.

Decent carbonation level, with some sharpness. Medium body, slight astringency in the finish. Good for the style, enjoyable.

This beer does not live up to the hype. It isn't a bad IPA, but it does not compare to some of the amazing examples out there...Triple Play IPA, HopDevil, Two Hearted, etc....

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Photo of champ103
3.01/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A friend brought some back to share from a trip to California.

A: Pours with a nice clarity. A bright and vibrant orange color. Two fingers of white head forms with good retention, and plenty of lace is left behind.
S: Bitter hops, lightly resiny, and some orange peal. Pale, grainy malts. The bitterness lingers on and on.
T: Again, mostly just bitterness with a splash of orange fruity flavors. Some very light grainy malts, but mostly a very strong bitterness that just does not stop.
M/D: Very thin and watery. Alarmingly so. A very week body. The bitterness and lack of body makes this a little hard for me to drink.

Mostly some nondescript bitterness and that is it. Add the very thin body, and I am not impressed. Just an average IPA. Nothing I would really recommend.

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Photo of ncaudle
3.01/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

poured from bomber into snifter.
no date code on bottle but local bottle shop had just received it the previous week.

pours a orange/gold color with thick white head. some nice lacing left around the glass.

some hop aromas there but not in your face like most other IPAs - kind of subdued. citrus and floral. taste is crisp but there is this funk going on which I just can't wrap my tongue around... almost "fishy" tasting to use the bottle label as point of reference. not a pleasant taste.

nice mouthfeel with right amount of carbonation.

drinkability would be much higher if it didnt have that funky taste. not a drain pour or anything but I won't be buying this again.

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Photo of ordybill
3.03/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ballast Point Sculpin is listed by many as a great beer. I am often times leery of mass approval of anything, with that in mind I gave this IPA a try. it was poured into a pint glass and did have a very pleasing light color for an IPA. The aroma was strong but not overpowering and when I took the first sip, I realized many voters are just towing the party line. I like IPAs but I get the since many of these brews are made the "drier" the better and to me that takes away from savoring the flavor. I would drink it again but I don't consider this a fantastic brew. I prefer Ballast Point's Wahoo White which I consider to be an excellent brew. But for the craft beer aficionado this beer would be well worth a sample beer or two to see if it is your cup of tea (so to speak)

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Photo of Longstaff
3.03/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Bought a six pack of Sculpin cans the other day. code on the bottom says 14028, so I am assuming this is pretty fresh - abt 2 wks old - unless I'm not deciphering it correctly.

IMO, this is no better than old school caramelly New England IPA with just a little bit drier finish. Hop character was weak and grassy, no citrusy/tropical fruit flavors. Draft has been inconsistent too - sometimes boozy and thin, sometimes decently hoppy, sometimes malty. What the heck happened to that juicy hop bomb like when it first came to the boston area in bombers? I think I'm about done with this beer as I am with GF WC IPA - two beers ruined by increased production.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.03/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this IPA into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was ugly cloudy colored but did have a very nice luxurious poofy head. The Hay colored beer was very hoppy and smelled very hoppy also. Just like it should have. I think it was what an IPA should be but I will not buy it again, tooo hoppy for me.

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Photo of FamousCharlie
3.04/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I am an IPA drinker mostly that is all I ever drink I just feel like I have had way better before just somthing about this beer never really made me want to go back out and drink it again

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Photo of crotharagain
3.06/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Underwhelmed. Traded for this with a Gray Sail Brewing Captain's Daughter. Granted, the Sculpin had been sitting in a hot car over the weekend, therefore I want to give it another shot ASAP.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.08/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

09/19/10- Had a bottle of this courtesy of Pabs311.
A: Hazy amber, nice cream head dies to a good film.
S: Nice mix of hops: grass, grapefruit, resiny pine; honey and mild fruit (like strawberries) come through as well.
T: Very bitter, resiny, with a cheese finish. There are roasted walnuts, honey and pale malts. It is clean and mild but overly bitter (unbalanced).
M: Slightly syrupy, but with a good frothiness.
D: Good, while being very bitter.

I had another chance to try this beer over this past weekend (06/18/11) in a bomber that was most certainly fresh. My description of this beer in this review is good, but my ratings are overly high. Smell was changed to 3.5 from 4.5. Taste was changed from 3.5 to 2.5. Drinkability was changed from 3.5 to Overall 3.0. One glass was more than enough and my group was fighting over who would draw the short straw to finish the bottle. This was a disappointing brew and I probably won't get it again.

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Photo of czarnowski
3.09/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sculpin India Pale Ale by Ballast Point Brewing Company is an average example of the style. I found that like many IPAs, the pine flavor was overwhelming. I don't find skunky, bitter, and unbalanced beer all that appealing. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous amber color. I liken it to a hot blonde with bad breath.

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Photo of 1ale_man
3.1/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Darker yellow look and clear. Had a slight citrusy smell but more malty. The first taste was great. Citrusy and maybe even some grapefruit. After that nothing special. More malt. The mouth feel is ok. Not watery. Overall it's an ok ipa. Maybe a real fresh one would be different. Don't get the hype. For the price, $14.99 for a sixer, I won't have anymore. It's not throw away.

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Photo of tewaris
3.11/5  rDev -29%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

70 IBUs

22 oz. bomber with no freshness date poured into a New Belgium globe. Thanks Dan!

Appearance 5/5
Golden-tangerine with the appropriate haze of a dry hopped IPA, Sculpin poured with a big off white head that took its time to settle and left kickass lacing. Signature American IPA looks. Perfect.

Aroma 4/5
Lots of fruity hops in the aroma: most notably apricot and then some mango. Just a hint of the herbal character that comes with dry hopping. Very good, but not up there in my opinion.

Taste 3/5
Smoothly bitter but hugely lacking flavor, and rather one dimensional. Is it not fresh? No one will know because Ballast Point doesn't date the bottles. Leaves a bitter aftertaste even though it's not all that bitter that brings us to the next item, mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel 2.5/5
Even though it says right on the bottle that this is a light bodied ale, I don't deem that a good excuse for an almost entirely missing malt backbone. Thin, and very thin when warm. Finishes dry but what's the point? I firmly believe that there should be a stronger body and more malts in a 7% ABV beer.

Overall 2/5
Sculpin was underwhelming, big time. There was no malt backbone whatsoever and the hop flavor was entirely missing in the taste in spite of the great aroma. Scupin is not the most bitter IPA but that's not my beef -- fresh Two Hearted is a great example of a fruity IPA that's not a bitterness bomb, and yet is amazing.

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Photo of fcbrew
3.12/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Bought a six pack at BevMo in LaJolla, CA (high volume store) from a refrigerated case February 1, 2013. It was kept chilled until opened the same day.

Poured into a pint glass- a hazy yellow-orange. The head was thin and dissipated quickly. There was no hint of hop aroma no citrus, no grapefruit- actually no detectable aroma at all. The taste was bitter with little or no maltiness. The mouthfeel was thin. There was an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. Poorly balanced. Not a particularly good IPA. I was expecting an excellent IPA based upon previous reviews. This is not at all similar to Pliny the Elder as has been suggested by other reviewers.

I had bought a six pack of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA last year and it was not very good then but, I hesitated to write a critical review because I felt that it might have been a bad sample. However, having bought it again and again having a negative impression, I decided to write this review. Very disappointed.

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Photo of samie85
3.13/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes; originally 6/10/11.

A-Pours a clear orange with a finger of white head with suspended hop matter throughout.

S-Apricot and grapefruit notes with a strong pine resin finish.

T-Dry, bitter apricot and pine with a bitter, bordering on astringent piny finish.

M-A little over-carbonated for the style, in my honest opinion, with a thin body and bone dry feel.

D-A little difficult to finish for me due to the combination of the very dry feel and the hop profiles used.

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Photo of viverlee
3.15/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Doc review today. $MM-level deal and I’m pretty sure no one will read the summary or care about the risks until it goes south, when all of the sudden the group unit leaders will wonder out loud, “How the fuck did this get past legal?” Let me tell you now how: I told you it was poo-poo, and you went ahead and did it anyway because “we need the volume.” That’s how it got past legal. I was overruled.

I’m 100 percent certain more people will read this free post about a $7 beer than GULs will dare actually read about the seven-figure risk we just assumed.

STYLE: American IPA

ABV: 7%

LOOK: The fizz rises quickly, leaving a thin but firm cantaloupe jello. Can’t get a head to last more than a few seconds, first because I’m drinking it (more on that later) and almost just as importantly because it won’t hold.

NOSE: Apricot, mangoes, buttered popcorn. A pleasant hybrid of Magic Hat #9 and 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA. The fruit, it’s more real, less processed. The butter, it’s nicer, more subtle.

MOUTH: Straight to pine. Maybe some clean pebbles too? The weight is nice, but there’s really only one thing to remember: Make sure you get a good head because it absolutely changes the beer for the better — a real mellower. Soft foam and strong bite, it’s like hoppy espresso. Quite good if you can get it, rather meh if you can’t.

Beeradvocate Rating: 98

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77

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Photo of Prospero
3.16/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Interesting beer. Thought I should try this as I like more balanced IPAs that have the malt backbone to support the hops.

The pour looked great, clear amber/copper color with white head and smelt strongly of malts, maybe a hint of piney hops in the nose, but mostly the caramel & breadiness of the malts broke through. Slight hint of grapefruit in the nose, but not as much as I would have liked.

Taste wise it wasn't at all what I was expecting, strong malt-forward beer here that had a strong caramel and breadiness/yeast like flavor with the grapefruit noticeable, but not dominate. For an IPA I was baffled as to how the hops had fallen to the back in this beer.

Mouthfeel is great, it's a very drinkable beer that's very smooth, almost no bitterness to this beer, probably due to the lack of dominant hops. Light carbonation.

All-in-all a good solid beer, but not at all what I expected in a balanced IPA. Most of the time I think IPAs as overly hopped up and never would have figured there'd be an IPA that was overly malted up.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,306 ratings.