Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

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

Added by brentk56 on 04-02-2006

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Reviews: 2,386 | Ratings: 13,099
Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.12/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice slightly hazy golden color with big pillowy white head. Some lacing, good retention. Smell is big grapefruit, big pine, big hops, basically. I would say it's citrusy with some piney undertones. The flavor follows suit with some big grapefruit flavor, followed by a piney finish. A bit sticky, but not dry on the finish. Clean bready malt underneath. MF is medium, very smooth, good drinkability. Overall, a really well put-together beer, though it kind of reminds me of very fresh Two-Hearted.

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Photo of stylinprofiylin
3.77/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: clear golden brown. white foam with some lacing.

S: hoppy pine aroma with a fruity afterthought

T: very strong initial hops taste that leads into a fruity citrusy feel that overwhelms your palate.

M: medium carbonation, but very dry.

D: kinda drinkable

Girlfriends input: i don't like it. hops tastes like Christmas barf/potpourri but it smells a lot better than it tastes

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Photo of hornitosmonster
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Hazy Golden West Coast IPA
S - Hoppy with and citrus
T - pine, hop, bitter, grapefruit, excellent
M - Fresh Hops
D - Easy to drink, hard to find

Excellent example of the west coast style IPA. I highly recommend this. Buy it when you find it. In fact buy them all because they are hard to find.

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Photo of stonermouse
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Finally scored a bomber if this one. Poured into a Sam Adams glass.

Nice looking brew here. More yellow than I would've expected, and pretty clear. I like to see a little more cloudiness in my big IPAs, but nice looking nonetheless. Lacing is nice, and the head leaves perfect rings as you go.

Really potent aroma, and clean hop flavor shoots up the nostrils. This is gonna be good.

Taste is just perfect for the style. Seems to encompass the citrus and floral characteristics, in equal parts. Nice sweetness to it as well. It's pretty dry on the back end, but pleasantly so.

Mouthfeel is just a little crisp and light to be truly great. I hope for real density to a big IPA, but this is pretty light. It still works for this brew, though, because the flavors themselves have incredible depth.

Drinkability is almost off the charts. You could easily go all night with this one. The dryness at the back end is more than tolerable, and increases the overall drinkability.

I'm glad I got a hold of this one, and hopefully some day I'll get a chance to sample from the tap. I'll bet it's superb.

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Photo of caskstrength
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours golden yellow. No haze. Exactly what's expected. Take a picture for your IPA Fancy magazine.

Smells are citrus first. And second. Pine in third. Maybe some tropical stuff too. Very good and as hoped.

Tastes are right in my wheelhouse. Citrus, pine, yada, yada, yada. Done really well here. Like hopslam without the thicker honey sweetness. This is clearly a top shelf IPA.

Mouthfeel is great. A bit dry, clean. No odd or off flavors, zesty and fresh.

Probably won't be drinking/trading for it much, however, when I can get two 500ml Plinys for less than a bomber of this. Maybe the 6 packs will help the value equation.

I bet it's great on tap.

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Photo of wikk3d
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked this up at a local store when someone left it behind after the clerk had put it aside. Never picked it up. Thought it was a good find.

Appearance - Pours a nice golden color with a thick white foam head. Doesn't go away too quickly either, the head settles to about a 2 finger thickness. See through.

Aroma - Fruity floral smell with a hoppy overtone. The hops are not too overpowering at all. More sweetness than anything. Has a slight hint of an alcoholic scent.

Taste - Very flavorful, pretty hoppy taste with a very sweet citrus and grapefruit flavor. The hops are not overpowering, it's actually very smooth. Once it goes down then the bitterness really kicks in. It just doesn't detract from the flavor though.Very good beer.

Mouthfeel - Again, this beer is pretty hoppy but it's really not to the point where it takes away from the overall experience of the beer.

Drinkability - I wish there was more, very good IPA. Can definitely finish off a bomber of this by myself.

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Photo of taylorparsons
4.94/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

a - golden liquid
s - hop flowers and citrus
t - nice bitters softened with a sweet top of mind
m - excellent exciting wanting more please more
d - please may I find this in Seattle

I was very surprised by this wondererful beer, which is excellent, and one beer is enough. I drank this brew after a pint of pliney the elder and it stood up on its own.

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Photo of afksports
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this fine brew back when I was starting my quest to drink the top100. This review is from notes, but I almost don't need them because the memory sits so well in my head. I think I still taste it.

The appearance is like many other IPA's, golden to orange, fairly clear, lots of rich head. The smell blows you away with hops and citrus. The taste does the same. And then it sits on your tongue. And sits. You can go eat a sandwich, come back, no more sipping needed, still have the hop profile there. The only maltiness is at the start, with a bit of caramel, and the rest just carries the hops through. Forever.

The carbonation is great and its medium body drinks well. I'm not a huge fan of the hops myself, so although the taste is exceptional for me, the drinkability gets a small notch down. Overall though, this is a pretty ridiculous beer.

I even looked up Sculpin on Wikipedia. Because this beer teaches us things.

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Photo of Blanco
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

poured into a snifter. nice orange hi-c color with very white fluffy head. very citrus-like smell, grapefruit, orange, hint of lemon. the taste as smooth as hell. Very nice citrus flavor and nice malt balance. Also some nice hints of tropical fruit, maybe some peach. the bitterness is mild and subdued, which was an extremely pleasant surprise. it's there just enough to remind you you are drinking an ipa, but it's not strong at all. the mouthfeel is nice and lively. extraordinarily smooth for an ipa. I'm normally not one for hype and tend to be disappointed, but this was fantastic.

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Photo of mjn5036
4.82/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I Picked up a bomber of this gem at Julio's the other day. Employee told me that it was no more than three weeks old - awesome. This one was poured into a large Piraat snifter. The pour gives way to a massive four finger bone-white head that mushrooms over the top of the glass. The head slowly, very slowly faded away and leaves behind some of the stickiest amazing looking lacing I have ever seen. Even after a few minutes a moderately sized head remains floating on top. The color is ruby, burnt orange.

The nose on this one is outstanding! A pure citrus and grapefruit bomb. These smells intermingle with a bit of a piney-ness and a really pleasant hop bitterness. Orange, grapefruit and pineapple and other faint fruits. Maybe a faint malty on the backstage. I am not really picking up on more than that- tons of sweet, sweet, citrusy smells and a nice hoppy bitterness. Amazing nose on this thing, simply superb.

The taste is impeccable. Tons of citrus - grapefruit and lemon. A lot of other fresh fruit going on as well; pineapple, mango and peach dominate. Sweet but not cloying, and pretty damn hoppy. As is warms I pick up some nice spicy notes and a decent malty profile that doesn't make this one completely one sided. Everything in this beer tasted incredibly fresh which is great.

The body is light to medium and the alcohol is not really present in the taste, but apparent as I finish the bomber. A nice amount of carbonation adds to the drinkability. My only qualm is the slight oiliness I seem to get off of this. A minute hiccup in its overall score however. This stuff is just insanely drinkable. This is easily the best single IPA I have had to date.

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Photo of iPaleAle
4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this one out of town because simply my town doesn't carry this ale.

A: Golden color yet with some copper highlights. What a true IPA should be. Don't let the fish scare you.

S: Diffidently the aromas of all the hops that are used are there within the first sniff. Sour also comes to mind after a sniff. ( Personally i can never get fruit aromas)

T: Peach is something that stings the palate making this beer sweet. But yet the hops make an appearance towards the end, just in between the delight of its sweetness and sourness for which we should be great full.

M: Not Heavy, not light. many flavors one could pick out. Its medium roast feel begs for more.

D: Highly drinkable IPA due for the fact that all the things one looks for an IPA are there. The hops. The different notes of fruits. The sourness. And yet its smoothness.

I wish my local store would have this in stock. But ill manage with the Ballast Point IPA. which is just one notch under.

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Photo of smcolw
4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark gold with a mild chill haze. Wonderful and large off-white head--settles to a dome. Leaves a ton of chunky lace.

Strong grapefruit and pine hop aroma. Floral and fresh.

Excellent balance at the start of the taste. Starts with a dry pale ale malt flavor. The swallow brings out wallop of bitterness--very peppery with a hint of grapefruit rind. The body is spot-on.

After seeing the glowing reviews, I can honestly say this didn't disappoint. It is one of the finer IPA's in the world.

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Photo of metter98
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy and golden yellow in color. It poured with a large white head that slowly faded away, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface. A very light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There are moderate aromas of citrus and pine resin hops in the nose. Notes of grapefruit stand out in particular.
T: The overall taste is very flavorful and well balanced; there is a medium amount of bitterness from the hops but this is nicely balanced by the underlying malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: The beer is highly drinkable; there's a strong amount of hop flavors but the bitterness is balanced by the malts and doesn't slow you down in finishing your glass.

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Photo of shand
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bomber into a nonic.

Appearance: Pours a golden, slightly hazy color with about one and a half fingers of head. The head retains very well and leaves very nice lacing.

Smell: The most delicious floral hops I've ever smelt. I'm salivating here sniffing it.

Taste: Perfect. Comes in with just a little bit of bracing sweetness until the delicious hops hit. They come as fast as they go, leaving a lingering, soft aftertaste of hops, citrus, and a bit of a floral aspect. Just perfect balance here.

Mouthfeel: Feels a little thicker than the floral and citrus aspects would let on, but otherwise without flaw.

Drinkability: The perfectly balanced aftertaste makes this extremely drinkable.

Really, the only flaw that Sculpin has is it's price. It's great, but is it twice as great as, say, a Sierra Nevada Celebration? I'm sure the six-packs will make this easier to swallow, but dropping more on this bomber than a six-pack of Celebration is a little tough to swallow. A great beer though, can't fault it anywhere else.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle courtesy of jyoungsbcp. This will be the second time having Sculpin. Into my DFH Signature Glass.

A: Nice copper color, slightly hazy, decent carbonation moving from the nucleation point. About half an inch or so of stark white head comes from the pour and recedes down to a thin cap, with a nice few gobs of lacing on the edge. Nice.

S: Nice resinous hops, huge grapefruit profile. Citrus rind is the the main player in the nose here. Underneath there is a decent little bit of malt, fairly grainy, maybe a more towards bread than straight grain. Fairly bright, and quite clean smelling as well.

T: Nice grapefruit up front, strong grapefruit and citrus rind in general. Very clean flavors from the hops, best described as juicy. Has a slightly piney note as well. Malt gets lost underneath a massive hop profile, yet the bitterness is mostly kept in check. Lots of late hop additions on this one. Just a bit of malt sweetness. Overall exactly to style and meets my expectations.

M: Lighter in body than most IPA's, maybe a touch over carbonated. Nicely dry, no noticeable booze. Decent mouthfeel, but the carbonation is just a touch too high.

D: Incredibly easy to drink, goes down without any effort. I'd have to say sticking with this all night would be a great choice. Very glad to try this again from the bottle.

Thanks Josh!

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

Served on cask at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint. This was the fuggle dry hop version.

A - Pours a deep, hazy, copper orange with a small one finger white head that leaves light, sticky, lacing down the glass.

S - HUGE hope aroma. Hints of grapefruit, tangerine, and other pungent tropical fruits. A slightly sweet aroma from the malt is a welcome addition to all those hops. One of the best smelling IPA's I have ever had.

T - Starts out sticky sweet thanks to the roasted malt but that gives way quickly to the HUGE amounts of hops. Hops are similar to the nose with grapefruit coming thru more than the others. The grassy hops are not as pungent as in the nose but are still plenty strong. An absolutely amazing cask offering from Ballast Point. How can I drink normal sculpin after having all of these cask versions?

M - Fairly smooth feel with medium-light body and flavor with moderate carbonation. It hides the 7% very well but the big bitterness takes its tole.

D - Near perfection. I could drink this every day for the rest of my life and be very happy. I have now had four different versions of cask Sculpin and this was my favorite, narrowly beating out the simcoe version.

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Photo of codewarrior
3.88/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber poured into a Chalice.

Many thanks to Smokepot23 for his generosity, have wanted to try this brew for a long while now.

L: Deep apricot and transparent, tons of frothy head.

S: Towering crisp hops with plenty of sweet behind to balance things out.

T: Slow start into a huge hit of hops, but not as hugs as one might expect. Slowly backs off into a lingering citrus sweetness. Balance is definitely on the sweeter side for the genre.

F: Good feel, nice carbonation, consistent. Just about rich in the thickness, touch thin if I had to split hairs.

D: Pretty damn good west coat IPA. Only problem here is that it doesn't stand up to some of it's California competition. Still, great brew here.

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Photo of Anaz
4.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer because it really expands upon what an IPA can be. The honey-gold color and thick head are lovely. The sharp aroma of hops is clean and powerful-spice, citrus, pine, and strange tropical aromas that I normally wouldn't expect burst from the glass.

The taste is so lush, but so clean it's really amazing. The flavors follow the aroma with a spare honeyed malt that is so delicate it weaves it's way through the hops rather comes through in fore or mid palate waves. The bitterness is refreshing and light, never too much, and not too little either.

The mouthfeel is full, yet light, with fine carbonation. This beer is very drinkable, and if not for the expense, I would have this on hand all the time. It's expensive for a single IPA, but you'd have to be miserly to think about that once the bottle has been opened and the first drop hits you lips.

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Photo of stakem
4.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On the hand pump at Al's. This was a fuggle dry hopped version.

Served in a nonic it appears a clear light golden color with a finger of creamy white foam. The head slowly fades from a finger's strength leaving a patchy coating atop the brew and patchy lace clinging to the glass.

The aroma coming out of this glass is absolutely mouth watering. It is a bouquet of citrus, flowers and herbs. It is notable how the fuggles really make this aroma noticeably more aromatic in an earthy and herbal sort of way with a grassy touch that is quite different from the normal version of sculpin.

The taste is quite grassy, herbal, earthy and somewhat minty. Amazing how different this one-off of sculpin is from the norm, I wonder just how much fuggles it took to transform this. I keep going back to this brew and smelling it twice before taking a sip. I don't know what that means but I really like it. Despite all the hop character there is still a sweetness with a floral aspect to be found in the taste. What little grain character comes through is noted with a toasty quality before the onset of the herbal bitterness that lasts inside the mouth with serious clinging power.

This is a fantastic one-off of one of my favorite IPA's. It is medium to almost light bodied with an acceptably low level of carbonation. Very easy drinking with the alcohol almost completely suppressed. About the only gripe I have with this brew is that it is at times a little watery but that doesn't stop me from emptying this glass at an alarming rate. Very well done.

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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 PTMcB
4.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - A somewhat cloudy gold. Good head which looks like some good malt. Some decent lacing.

S - Amazing smell! Very powerful, yet not overdone. Citrus and pine.

T - Piny/hops with the sweetness of grapefruit and possibly some pineapple.

M - A perfect amount of carbonation for a very smooth feel.

D - Just great! This is a beer I will look foward to having again for time to come. I could sit back on this for a long time. Thanks to Duff for getting it to me!!!

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Photo of telecomz
4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Nice ochre-amber

Smell - Incredible tropical fruit and hop. Better than Pliny the Elder.

Taste - Citrus and pine hops. Dry but not astringent. Lingering bitterness. Tremendous.

Mouthfeel - Medium body.

Drinkability - Very easy to drink. A wonderful beer.

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Photo of Derek
4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Golden bronze with a huge white head, great retention & lace.

S: Tangerine, nectarine, orange, floral, pine and grass, great hop nose.

T: Nectarine, tangerine, mandarine, mango, hints of pine & grass. Biscuit & toffee from the malt, good bitterness (I expected a little more), alcohol well-hidden.

M: Moderate body is smooth with some hop acidity.

D: Where's the sting? I think this is an easy drinker!

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Photo of beermanbrian
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fresh growler from Brass Rail.

Golden color with a big creamy soap bubble head. Head sticks to the glass like glue and does not go away. Color is a little lighter than expected but there is nothing wrong with that.

Smell is a blast of citrus and pipe. Slips into grapefruit range, which is my favorite flavor in an IPA. Smell has me looking forward to that first sip.

First taste doesn't disappoint. Citrus up front and then it slips into oily pine. Very good.

This is one of those few beers that's been able to live up expectations lately. This one didn't let me down and has me looking forward to the full growler.

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Photo of awalk1227
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 11/5/10 ...found this gem sitting by itself at a liquor store!

Poured into Firestone Walker pint glass

A: Brilliant yellow with a crisp white head, very pretty in the light. It glows!

S: Wow, all tropical fruits here. Oranges, pineapple, grapefruit in the background. Can't really get any pine, but it's a pleasure to whiff. As it warms a bit and I pour more from the bomber, I get whiffs of stinky pot? Yeah, I think that's what it is.

T: Begins with a creamy mouthfull that immediately put a bittering feel on my tongue. It mellows out into a slight caramel malt, and finishes with the grapefruit and pine an IPA is known for. However, I feel like I got a slight prickle of alcohol on the finish, which was both unpleasant and startling to me. What is this? I think my palate may be acting weird on this one.

F: Like the bottle says, surprisingly light. very crisp though. A tiny bit of prickle on the tongue. Bitter feel from the hops but not overly so.

D: There's more at the liquor store. I may go back and get more.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,386 ratings.