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Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

9,309 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,309
Reviews: 2,032
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.75%
Wants: 954
Gots: 1,718 | FT: 45
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
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Ratings: 9,309 | Reviews: 2,032 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jmarsh123
4.13/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice bright gold with a small white head. Really looks good.

Smells of a west coast style IPA. Citrus/Grapefruit/Pine all hit your nose with a gusto. A little grassy too.

Piney hop burst up front. Then the malts become slightly detectable while finishing with a lingering dry bitterness.

Mouthfeel is fairly light with good carbonation levels.

Sculpin has a reputation as one of the best West Coast IPA's and doesn't disappoint. The only knock is I would've liked a little bit more grapefruitiness to balance out the piney resin, but a small nitpick at that as this beer is still good, just not elite.

jmarsh123, Aug 25, 2011
Photo of r0nyn
4.47/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an 8oz tasting glass at the Pony Bar in NYC.

I figured I'd inaugurate my Pony experience with an old, familiar favorite, and it totally didn't disappoint. Has the same enticing look as I remember: lambent amber hue with a minimal frothy head. Lacing coats the inside of the glass in sticky strands. Smell is big and floral and hoppy, with a rich bouquet of citrus and pine. Some very distinct fruit notes can be detected underneath the primary scents as well, along with a malty component that rounds out a very nice smelling package.

Smooth is the word of the day here. The initial sip is finely balanced between the bitter and floral sides of the hop character, each component complementing the other. Sweet malts and the fruity essences quickly come into play after the first few seconds, followed by a solid wall of bitterness. As with all good IPAs, though, the bitterness is not overwhelming; instead it serves to provide equilibrium to an already phenomenal-tasting beer. Each sip is an adventure in piney, hoppy, malty goodness and I wouldn't have it any other way. Finishes with a bitter pop that doesn't linger, leaving you ready for another mouthful. Mouthfeel is smooth, with just a touch of creaminess as it settles on the tongue. More IPAs could afford to have this kind of body and texture, as the world would definitely be a better place.

Sculpin is definitely my favorite IPA, and that's no mean feat, especially for someone who doesn't sway to the hop side of the Force like me. It's got a deceptively sublime balance of bitter and sweet, combined with a refined mouthfeel, making it a marvelously seminal experience in craft beer. Damn good stuff.

r0nyn, Aug 24, 2011
Photo of shangwang
4.58/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been fortunate to have Sculpin from a Philly Beer Week firkin before, but now it's time for a proper review. Grabbed a couple of bottles from a friend who stumbled on a case.

Poured with one finger of wet foamy head that stuck around for a while. Ever so slightly hazy golden caramel color. Wonderful smells of sweet pear, grass, flowers, pine, and biscuits. The smell was one of the most pleasant I've experienced from a beer. Tasted slightly sweet at first with a heavy dose of bitterness immediately following. Among the sweet tastes were malt, citrus, and wood. The bitter had a licorice quality to it, and was earthy. Very balanced. Great mouthfeel- some carbonation that created a crispness that foamed with a slightly creamy smooth consistency. Very clean finish.

Overall, Sculpin obviously has its reputation for a reason. For my money easily one of the top 3 IPAs and the fact that it isn't always easy to come by makes it a nice treat when you come across it. One of my favorites!!

shangwang, Aug 24, 2011
Photo of BurnInLA
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured a golden amber color that is slightly hazy with nice head that stayed a while and leaves good lacing.

Smell: Nutty malt, presence. Hop presence of grass, spice and pine.

Taste: Again nutty malt along with pine, grass and a little bit of spice.

Mouthfeel: Good mouthfeel with a nice medium body.

Overall: Overall I think this is a very good to excellent beer. Very balanced but it's strong hop presence makes it a real IPA. They have a lot of good things going on in San Diego right now...

BurnInLA, Aug 23, 2011
Photo of Aberration
3.93/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass,

Hazy, golden color. Head quickly dissipates after the pour.

Smells good, lots of bitterness on the nose. Also smells slightly sweet, and a little grassy.

Tastes like it smells, delicious grassy goodness. Almost a little too bitter however.

Good mouthfeel, somewhat thick for an IPA...but nothing too special here. Fleeting carbonation on the tongue.

Overall: Very solid IPA, but this one won't quite live up to its "A" rating to me.

Aberration, Aug 23, 2011
Photo of ChrisSimpson1968
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours tea-orange into the glass, with a retentive frothy head. The nose contains a huge bouquet of pine and citrus elements. Flavors of grapefruit, mangos, pine resin, tea-leaf tannins and fresh grassy hops intermingle in a perfect balance. Although complex, each pull provides an easy quaff and a light-round mouthfeel. Carbonation is smooth, yet provides for a lightly zesty palate. Perfect execution of an IPA. Great brew.

ChrisSimpson1968, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of Nerudamann
3.5/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look - golden color, clear, with good carbonation and about two fingers worth of off-white fluffy foam that dissipates slowly.

Smell - lovely hop aroma. A hint of the mango is present as well.

Taste and Mouthfeel - I don't taste much of the "sting", but the hoppy taste is certainly there. There is a bit of a bite toward the end though. Only a little bit of the mango or orange is noticeable. The texture is pretty well balanced, but leans more toward the watery side.

Overall - not a bad brew. Love the hoppiness of it, although it's not terribly perplexing.

Nerudamann, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of sureshot08
4.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Golden yellow. Clear but with little floating pieces of yeast. Two finger white head with good retention.

Smell: Citrus and floral.

Taste: Grapefruit and hop bitterness, but not overwhelmingly so. Lingering aftertaste that seems to ask you to take another sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and carbonation, very smooth.

Overall: I had high expectations for this, and they were met. I think there are other comparably good IPAs that are probably cheaper, but I plan on getting this one again.

sureshot08, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of Azurescens
4.18/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle with batch code SCU88 on neck, poured into Hair of the Dog tulip, reviewed on 8/20/11.

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden orange topped with a foamy whitish head that leaves some nice lacing around glass.

S: A bouquet of fruity hop aromas, peach and apricot with some citrus in there as well. Sweet malt notes blend really nicely with all the fruity hops.

T: Moderate hop bitterness with similar fruity hop flavors to those in the aroma but not nearly as strong. Crisp pale malt provides some balance to the bitterness and fruity hop flavors. Leaves a lingering taste of resinous citrus hops.

M: Really clean and crisp, light-medium bodied, moderate carbonation and a nice dry finish.

O: Solid IPA, really drinkable and refreshing especially on a hot summer day like today. Wish this got distributed up here in WA.

Azurescens, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of jeff1973
4.43/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz into a my Founders pint glass.

A - Golden tilting towards light orange. Eggshell head with great lacing.

S - Piney, citrusy in all the good ways. A little mango/pineapple.

T - Upfront grapefruit/mango/pineapple, then goes to pine. Has a slightly earthy finish along with more grapefruit/mango/pineapple.

M - Medium. Good carbonation.

D - High. This one tastes great. The medium body and good amount of carbonation make it go down easy. The dry finish is very refreshing.

Great IPA. I would put this in the top 5 of IPAs that I have had so for.

jeff1973, Aug 18, 2011
Photo of huhl23
4.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this is one heck of an IPA. Cask-conditioned and pumped into a pint glass, amber-gold with a glow, topped with an off-white head of 1/2 inch. It looks like a sparkling beer with a perfect carbonation to it. Good head retention and some nice sticky lace clings to the glass.

Grapefruit and pine make up the very brisk and refreshing nose.

The flavor is sweet citrus with white grapefruit dominating in the intro then turns sharply into a dense pine forest, a hop-bomb pine forest. Mouth puckering down to the finish that leaves your mouth feeling clean and refreshed with a later after taste of sweet oranges. Spikey, spicy and floral that damn near pushes to a DIPA. Really, really tasty stuff, I'd like too compare it to the regular Sculpin side-by-side just for fun.

Medium body with the alcohol well burried, I'd have to guess it's around 7%ABV, very high drinkability and hop-head friendly...one of the best IPA's I've ever tasted!

huhl23, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of robbrandes
4.72/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 22oz bomber

slightly hazy gold, very nice head (even on the 2nd night after capping the bomber the first!) with good lacing.

smell is a near-perfect balance of citrus and piney hops.

taste - as with the nose, very little malt presence, but it is not missed. the hop profile is absolute perfection - just when you think one facet will tip the balance, the next instant is another lupulin blast. finishes very clean and any lingering bitterness is well-received. excellent mouthfeel - this is a slippery smooth beast and goes down very easily.

if pliny is 1A, sculpin is a very close 1B. and at 7%ABV vs pliny's 8%ABV, i'm thinking that means you can enjoy about 14% more sculpin!

robbrandes, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of brystmar
4.13/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Mugs Alehouse.

A: moderate amounts of creamy head, good retention. Solid lace, esp for an IPA.

S: tons of floral hops, fruity grapefruit, pine needles.

T: hops through and through. Lots of pine. Hops are smooth and round, but super dominant: the minimal sweet malts don't stand a chance here. A more balanced mixture would be dangerously good!

M/D: smoothly medium-bodied, perfectly carbonated. I'm not a hop head so the drinkability is a touch low for me, but if hops are your thing then you'll be in love.

brystmar, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A hazy gold color with an egg-shell white head that stays for a long time, receding slowly.

S - Tons of sweet mango, pear, tropical fruits and nose tingling hoppyness.

T - A very even mix of citrus and pine hops. No real malt presence. A lingering bitterness. A good dose of grapefruit as it warms. The taste is very good.

M - Light to medium body and moderately-high carbonation. A little prickly.

O - A great west coast IPA, very typical of the style.

SkiBum22, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of gskitt
4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a shade of gold that promises good things will soon come. Big white head, lacing, a bit of stick. Scent is impressive, lemony citrus notes, hops permeates the nose. Taste is a nice balance between the sweetness of the malts and bitterness of the hops. Not sure what is at the back, I guess bittersweetness. I have been waiting to try this and I was not disappointed. Overall, a great brew.

gskitt, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of Luk13
3.58/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Small 4oz pour at Mondial de la bière 2011. Appearance: Dark gold with lasting white head. Aroma: Spicy hops upfront, some citrus and a considerable malt presence (toffee, caramel). Taste: Bitter but not overly so, balanced with caramel notes and spicy hops. Palate: Solid with medium carbonation. Overall: A good IPA but I was expecting more from its reputation. Maybe it wasn't very fresh.

Luk13, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of crossovert
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle. No date. I hope it is fresh.

It pours a lightish gold with a frothy white head. There is some decent lacing as it recedes.

The smell is nicely hopped. It is mostly pineapple and generic like smarties or something.

The flavor is really nice. It tastes like it gets way too much hype though. It has a clear cut bitterness which is great but it is the support act that isn't as great as I was hoping. There is some tropical fruit backing, but I want more.

Overall though it is a solid IPA.

crossovert, Aug 12, 2011
Photo of GeorgeAldi
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours slightly hazy gold with a great foamy white head. This is certainly hoppy. It is a predictable but welcome delivery of citrusy hops. This one brought Avery’s IPA to mind, just a little more balanced and a bit lighter on the palate. This is refreshing for the style with plenty of grapefruit and juicier citrus flavor. Malts are just sweet enough and not too thick. I’d drink this on a regular basis if I could.

GeorgeAldi, Aug 10, 2011
Photo of fox227
4.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Dark, cloudy yellow. Creamy head and nice lacing.

S: Perfume of flowers, citrus, sweet stone fruit.

T: big hoppy burst of pine, citrus, pineapple. This beer tastes a little bit different from my last time, as I think that freshness is a huge factor. Without a bottled on date, I would guess that this is a very fresh bottle. This way the beer seems less balanced, favoring more aggressive hops. As the beer warms a bit, I notice the peach or apricot subtle notes.

M: Feels very smooth, modest carbonation, lots of hops present on the tongue.

O: Last time I had this beer I was sure that it was the greatest IPA I've ever had. But this time I remember my other favorites from Alpine and Russian River. But I would put Sculpin in my top four to be sure.

fox227, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of argock
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a 20oz (?) tumbler at Capital Ale House (Richmond, VA). Reviewed from notes.

A: Burnished amber with a very sticky off-white cap of head which leaves several persistent lace streaks down the glass.

S: One of the best IPA aromas around with tropical fruit hoppiness of mango, pineapple, and passionfruit, coupled with pine resin and floral notes. Pale malt with a little medium crystal sneaks in there to provide a little resistance to hop deluge.

T: The flavor was not a good as I remember the bottle being, and I was a little let down. I think the grassy, herbal, slightly oniony notes that dry-hopping lends were much more pronounced in the draft version. The same tropical song from the hops, just like in the nose, with a solid malt backing for sure. I am starting to think that I am not the biggest fan of dry-hopped beers.

M: The body was medium and overall the beer had a tackier feel than I remember, and I have had it a few times in the bottle. Carbonation was mid-range and on par for the style.

O: I still really like this beer, just not as much on draft mainly due to the grassy, planty flavors (as well as the hefty price tag of $10.50 for 20oz). Still it's a great beer and I'll go back to it plenty of times.

argock, Aug 07, 2011
Photo of wcudwight
4.78/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bronze in color with a thick, sticky, lasting head. Lot's of sticky lacing. This is what IPA's are supposed to look like. From the moment I pop the cap mango feels my olefactory senses. Other citrus fruits are noticable as well as sugar cane. Flavor follows the aroma with a huge hop bill that doesn't tear your mouth apart. Sculpin has perfected the balance. Again mango is what I notice first with other citrus fruits. Grapefruit, lemon and a touch of sweetness for balance. It appears they only used pale malts in this one. Thank goodness as that let's the hops shine. Mouthfeel is medium and both sharp and oily. Great beer by Ballast Point and I was lucky to find it while vacationing in Myrtle Beach.

wcudwight, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of elgiacomo
4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle unknown date. Served around 45F. Thanks to Ryan for this unexpected extra!

Pours lightly hazy golden amber with a three finger fluffy white head that holds a great cap and leaves nice spotty lacing.

Aroma is lemon, apricot, floral & grassy hops, some light tropical fruits, some melon, a bit of pineapple, some orange and grapefruit, caramel and bready malt. Good to very good strength.

Flavor is citrus, lemon, orange, grapefruit, some pineapple and apricot, a little bit resinous, balanced against some bread and light caramel malt, finishes with very good bitterness. Minimal alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a bit oily, medium carbonation.

An excellent IPA for sure although the hype train leaves a tad bit to be desired, particularly in the aroma department. I’m stoked to finally get a chance to try Sculpin and while it may not be quite everything I had hoped it is still a fantastic IPA and one I would seek out again.

elgiacomo, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of MONKandTUCK
3.75/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- poured into a tumbler glass, the beer is dense, but very light hued. Looks like lemonade.

A- fresh fruity snap. Kinda mellow, compared to some IPA's which send off grapefruit pith and pine resin. Very juicy very floral.

T- tropical punch. There's a lot of tangerine and some banana. Bitterness is mild. There's something lacking in the flavor, because the fruit character is over-whelming. This tastes more like juice than beer, some dank, piney or spicy hops would balance that out. It's like a Lemon Head candy w/o the sourness that leaves you with the desired pucker.

M- Slightly sweet and substantial body. This is a exactly the way an IPA should drink.

O- This beer is drinkable, but it leaves something to be desired. I'm sure when I try it again I'll be tasting flavors I missed. I felt this one fell short of the hype, but surely demonstrates the exceptional brewing taking place out of the West Coast.

Thanks to The Hulmeville Inn for featuring this beer and other great offerings!

MONKandTUCK, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of PerHops
4.78/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

S- 12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A- Light golden orange. Slightly hazy works light to dark (bottom to top).

S- Great hop spice, citrus and pine

T- You can't call this a double IPA (even though it's priced like one), due to the 7 percent ABV. =You can't really says it's a traditional american IPA either. There's a whole lot of hops and not a lot of malt going on. But it's surprisingly well balanced (a la pliny the elder)

M- Perfect carbonation for this style. Excellent lacing.

O- One of my favorites. Fantastic IPA with only three or four others that I'd put in the same class.

PerHops, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of coldriver
4.47/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Toronado San Francisco, July 2011. Deep golden amber with sufficient head and lacing. Wonderful citrus and floral aroma that seems to permeate right to the center of the brain. Taste is right where I like an IPA, Citrus and Piney wonderfulness held up by sufficient malty backing. Resinous mouthfeel which coats the tastebuds for lingering effect after every sip.

A wonderful IPA!

coldriver, Aug 05, 2011
Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 9,309 ratings.