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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

9,282 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,282
Reviews: 2,027
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.75%
Wants: 955
Gots: 1,701 | FT: 47
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sculpin IPA Alström Bros
Ratings: 9,282 | Reviews: 2,027 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.68/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

BuckeyeNation, May 30, 2008
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a hazy orangey color ale with a large frothy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus hops with deep caramel malt backbone is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by loads of citrus hops with some floral undertones though no grapefruit notes and a deep and solid caramel malt backbone with balanced sweetness level. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance between malt and hops.

Phyl21ca, May 17, 2010
Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle (June 21, 09)
On tap at GABF Weekend '08

Holy crap, this is a seriously good beer! A total surprise to me that this relatively unknown beer to be would be a standout among standouts. The hoppy-grapefruit character is everywhere and packs a whollop of citrus bitterness and flavor. Nearly resin-y with Cascades and other American varieties. The hops are very bold in the taste, but rediculously mouthwatering in the aroma. The malt profile flies under the radar and gives a dry, very well attenuated maltiness and with a grahm-cracker crispness. Malt flavors seem to be a 2-row / 6-row traditional balance where the grain flavors accentuate the hop bitterness. Quite fruity for an American IPA with light peaches, appricots, and oranges. If the style is supposed to be hop-forward, then this beer deserves its high rating.

Thanks RyanC84

BEERchitect, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +2%

Texasfan549, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So this one goes out to Joey. He had been bitchin at me to try this forever and ranting and raving about how it was the best IPA under the sun. Finally, it was in bottles and I could take him up on this. Yesterday afternoon seemed like as good a time as any to try it out, so went over to Dad's for a little while and popped this open while I was there.

Appearance - Now then, this is what an IPA is supposed to look like. The pour was a deep orange amber, and absolutely crystal clear. There was a radiance about it that was outstanding. Tons of carbonation rippling up toward the surface, just enhancing what already looked absolutely stunning to begin with. A huge three-inch head of white foam formed on the top and ohh so gradually settled down into a nice one finger high pillow that settled down over the top of the glass and never did leave. The side glass lace was the absolute stickiest I had ever seen, and I swear the outside of the glass was getting sticky from it. Really just the perfect looking IPA.

Smell - The aroma was the most pungent, ripping citrus hops you could imagine. Just absolutely the freshest grapefruit smell. It was really tremendous to be honest. Such a strong fresh, bitter aroma that I could have been in the middle of a hop field. Just the slightest bit of sugar on the back end sweetening it up, but otherwise this was just a hop driven monster of an IPA.

Taste - The flavor followed right where the aroma left of. It started out with just this dripping fresh hop taste. Really extremely sharp, crisp, and just unbelievably fresh, this was the flavor I had been looking for in the style forever. It was just tremendous, with the floral taste being almost bigger then the beer itself. Hands down, the best hop taste I have ever come across. So crisp and refreshing with a huge taste, I was in heaven with this one. As it warmed some slight bready characters came out, but nothing was toppling the huge hop taste. In fact, it made a nice transformation over to a pine resin like flavor as it warmed, and got even stickier. The finish was huge, dry, and bitter, perfect.

Mouthfeel - Very nice light bodied IPA, with a huge amount of carbonation coming off of it. Lots of bubbles rippling through it over and over, really just perfect here as well, crisp and clean, not too thin and pungently strong.

Drinkability - This is the IPA for me at least. I put down the bottle and was scrounging around the house looking for more. It was just that good. I could have easily had a couple more, would not have been a problem. One of the best ever.

Overall this was probably my favorite west coast IPA I have ever had. I had to score it perfectly, only because I could not find any fault in it. When I think west coast IPA, I think of exactly this beer now. If you love hops, you simply cannot be happy without this one.

mikesgroove, Apr 15, 2008
Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +13.4%

kjkinsey, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
4.83/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Stone.

A: A clear pale golden color with a fluffy white head and nice lacing.

S: I could have just sat there and smelled this thing all day long. Amazing hop character, particularly citrus (grapefruit), mango, and pineapple.

T: Like the nose indicates, quite a bit of fruit in this one. Especially the grapefruit and pineapple. An excellent piney bitterness on the finish. The malt is very absent, and that is very much appreciated.

M: Moderately carbonated, which works quite well for this beer. Medium body.

D: One of the easiest drinking and most well rounded IPAs I've had...ever. An absolutely amazing beer.

womencantsail, Sep 09, 2009
Photo of ygtbsm94
4.5/5  rDev +2%

ygtbsm94, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
3.6/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very different beer in the bottle than when on tap!

Pours a honey yellow with firm white head. Huge very ripe and sweet pineapple nose. Huge and very appealing.

Mouth is full and medium rich; somewhat bold although does not have the bright character whatsoever of this beer on tap.

Flavors are bitter pine and pine resin with some grapefruit skin, not the bright bitter charachter when on tap.

Appealing but not nearly as bright and inviting as this one on draft. Draft and bottle are two very different beers for this one, draft being far more inviting and far more appealing. This draft rivals any "big hop brew" I've tried. In the bottle, it's good but that's about it-not outstanding as it is on draft. Bottle was actually quite disappointing after trying this on draft. EDIT 08/31/10 - the new batch with the first "new" label is wonderfully drinkable and appealing. Review stands as written and yes, tap is still better. But Ballast Point is able to make a wonderfully fresh and crisp hoppy beer and still make it creamy and mouthfilling. A wonderful drink. End Edit

Finish is grapefruit skin and lemon oil that goes to pine and resin.

GRG1313, Oct 15, 2009
Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +13.4%

spycow, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
4.13/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single finger head with nice lacing on a amber gold clear body. Very nice sweet aroma with mostly grapefruit and pineapple notes. Flavor is very different with mostly a dry, pine and musty hop taste. Moderate to high carbonation and medium body. Overall a very good IPA

kylehay2004, Jan 05, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4.5/5  rDev +2%

jaydoc, Feb 22, 2014
Photo of Knapp85
4.43/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm to the point now that if I see this at my local beer store I just buy as many as I can. This IPA is well worth the $2.75 a bottle I get it for. Sculpin pours out as a pleasing golden color with a nice soapy looking white head. The head settles and leave a white bubbly film over the beer that leaves a pretty damn good lacing down the glass. The smell of this beer is very inviting. It's got hops in there along with Grapefruit, lemon, orange, and a faint aroma of peach. The taste is very good as well it's gives off a really nice sweetness upfront followed but a cotton mouth bitter dryness in the back end. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation to it. Overall it's a very pleasing IPA, once of the best that isn't an Imperial in my opinion. The more you have the better they get. I really hope Ballest Point never pulls out of PA.

Knapp85, Jun 12, 2011
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 11, 2009
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -15%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
4.08/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in my trusty Devil's Backbone willibecher.

Big thanks to stevglad and the N00b Traders BIF for this catch!

Based on what the label tells me, I kinda wanna try some sculpin meat. Anyway, the beer pours a clear golden straw topped by over a finger of white foam. The nose holds plenty o' sharp pine and even sharper grapefruit, with a buttery toffee undercurrent. The taste follows pretty closely, though the toffee loses both some power and some butter. The hops, though, remain rather powerful throughout. The body is a light medium, with moderate carbonation and a very smooth feel. Overall, a strong IPA, but kinda overly one-dimensional in favor of the hops. I'd prefer a bit more balance, but it's pretty damn good nonetheless.

TMoney2591, Jul 12, 2010
Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super fresh bottle courtesy of Weibull...

Poured into a fluted tulip, it's quick to generate a fluffy head of sticky foam. Instant resiny aroma packed with floral/herbal hops and tropical fruit. Color is a light high-clarity orange with tiny rising bubbles. Lacing forms in sudsy sheets, and sticks around for awhile.

Concentrated citrusy hop flavors of pink grapefruit and bitter orange pith. Residual leafiness and a juicy mango aftertaste. Pale malt is relegated to the back of the bus, but provides a slight tip to the balance scale. Moderate and creamy carbonation with the obligatory hop bite to it. Slightly dry in the end with a fairly long finish.

This is a fresh and vibrant west coast IPA, check it out...

emerge077, Mar 04, 2008
Photo of largadeer
4.72/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Perfectly clear pale amber with a dense frothy head that leaves behind thick sheets of lace. Can't really get any better here.

Smell: Fresh fruit and oily hops; grapefruit and mango with a touch of pine. Malts are subtle and don't get in the way of the incredible hop aroma.

Taste & mouthfeel: Similar to the nose, but with an even greater pine and mango presence. Malts are subdued and dry, little more than a foundation for the hops, though they lend a bit of biscuit-like flavor and a hint of wild honey as the brew warms. So damn crisp and light-bodied, I'd never guess this was 7%. Hop bitterness is perfect; coating but not overwhelming, assertive but not aggressive.

Notes: A nearly perfect IPA, easily ranking in my top 5 of all time for the style.

5.0/5.0/4.5/5.0/5.0

3/15/11:

Newer batches of this beer are significantly less impressive. The tropical fruit aromatics are largely gone, and the hop flavor less intense.

largadeer, Apr 17, 2008
Photo of zeff80
4.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a clear, golden yellow color with a small, white, bubbly head of foam. It left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled amazing. Loads of grapefruit, bubblegum, mango and other citrus aromas. It had a slight caramel nose, too.

T - It tasted of sweet citrus flavors with grapefruit and orange peel. It had a nice bitter hop bite and a bitter burnt toast malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and quite sharp. A medium-bodied ale with a smooth finish.

D - This is an amazing IPA. It has all the complexity and depth of an Imperial IPA without an over the top alcohol presence.

zeff80, Nov 26, 2009
Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, from the Kahala Whole Foods in Honolulu. Sufficiently unattractive representation of the eponymous fish front and center on the label.

This beer pours a clear, medium golden orange hue, with three fingers of roiling, foamy, bubbly off-white head, which leaves some crooked bonsai tree lace around the glass as it slowly seeps away.

It smells pungently of grapefruit rind, blood orange, a slight herbal tinge, pine resin, and the faintest hint of bready caramel malt. The taste is big bitter blended citrus and pine, a slight uptick in the herbal, almost yeasty notes and a still suppressed bready malt, with zero heat from the 7 points of alcohol.

The carbonation is steady, and average, and well, everything you didn't know you wanted, the body a decently svelte medium weight, and more or less smooth, the hops bypassing this usual vein of interference. It finishes still pretty hoppy, but even more muddled, the citrus, pine, and herbal factions all united in plastering my palate with the ol' bitterness.

A pretty solid west coast IPA, with the extra herbal notes adding a complexity that I sometimes find interesting, and others, not so much. Given that here it's the former, I have to go with the overwhelming majority, and pimp this straight out.

biboergosum, May 13, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -9.3%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.22/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
I can't read all of the code on it, but it looks like this:
S _ _ _ _
J D J C A

Appearance: Hazy golden body. Creamy white head drops shortly. Some very nice lacing. Both tiny and larger bubbles rise to the surface... the larger ones run quicker along the side of the glass. Protein/yeast/hop residue (?) is clearly seen in suspension and 'wiggles' if I shake the glass.

Smell: Softly pungent. Hoppy, like opening a fresh bag. Grassy. Slightly cheesy. Some citrus fruit... I'm thinking tangerine, sweetish grapefruit, and perhaps a spritz of lemon; as well as some chalky rind. There are some apricots as well, and a hint of pine needles. It's quite pleasant, and it's not brash. I've had it via cask before and I remember it being a bit bolder, but that may have been dry hopped. Regardless, I actually prefer it as is.

Taste: The same hop and yeast flavors are wrapped in a round ball of rich pilsner-like malt. It's perfectly balanced with the depth of the malt flavor matching the depth of the hop flavors. It's solidly bitter, but not overdone. The resinous hops linger in the finish as the soft sweetness of the malt fades and the bitterness steps forward. The alcohol is well cloaked, and you don't find it at all until halfway through the glass when you get a bit of it in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Smooth and creamy across the palate.

Overall: A really nicely balanced, lush IPA. Nicely done.

NeroFiddled, Apr 24, 2011
Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -3.6%

SocalKicks, Mar 20, 2012
Photo of Jason
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Jason, Jan 09, 2013
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is an excellent blend of fruity citrus, piney hops and light caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts with a strong burst of floral hops bitterness up front that is quickly followed by a sweet citrus flavor and background flavor caramel. The malt character is on the thin side for the style but works well for this beer. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, good kick, excellent representation of style, this is an excellent beer and a great hop bomb that is worth drinking for an entire evening.

TheManiacalOne, Jun 01, 2009
Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 9,282 ratings.