Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,345 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 2,345
Hads: 12,840
Avg: 4.38
pDev: 22.6%
Wants: 1,401
Gots: 4,680 | FT: 48
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,345 | Hads: 12,840
Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A must buy every time I see it. I'd really hate to admit that a California IPA could beat our Washington
hop-mastery, but few can rise to this level. A near perfect balance of sweet, bitter, and citrus, it's refreshing like no other.

 233 characters

Photo of NickTheGreat
4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L (4.5) - I really like the color of this one, a bit more amber than some IPA's. A little bit of very white foam, but dissipates quickly.
S (4.25) - Really nice hop aroma. More floral than citrus in my opinion.
T (4.25) - Tastes as good as it smells. Nice floral hop presence at the beginning. It finishes a little bitter for my liking, almost like earwax. I can overlook it, but this keeps it from being top shelf in my book.
F (4.25) - Good mouthfeel. Not super carbonated, but easy to drink.
O (4.25) - Overall, I liked this beer. I'm excited for Ballast Point to be in our state, and look forward to trying their other fine beers.

 644 characters

Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Fruity, citrusy hops upfront, followed by some malt presence.

A: Golden color with a slight orange hue, clear with an inch of head that slowly recedes to a thin film.

T: Fruity citrusy hops that give way to some malt. The malt’s sweetness is restrained and the beer has a moderately low bitterness.

M: Med-light bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Wow, I forgot how tasty fresh Sculpin is on draft. The beer has great fruit forward, citrusy hops with just enough malt.

 487 characters

Photo of mchegash
4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a DFH IPA glass.

L: A vibrant orange-gold with several fingers of light tan head, with lots of rising carbonation rising up the beer. Looks pretty close to a perfect IPA

S: Delicious pine citrus notes, some mellow resinous aromas as well

T: An almost even split in taste between the resinous flavors and the pine-citrus flavors. Some light lager-ish malt characteristics as well.

F: A great mouthfeel, a moderate amount of carbonation, medium-full body, smooth.

O: A really great IPA, one that I would buy again (and did...I didn't review any from my first 6-pack, bought a second one today, "so I could review")

 643 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours yellow gold with a white foam head. Smells of bitter citrus and hops. The taste was not as fruity as I expected. All I could point out was maybe lemon, along with some herbal and grassy hop notes. Very bitter, but not overdone. High carbonation and medium body give it a nice feel. Overall, a good, bitter, hoppy IPA, that could be just a bit more flavorful.

 364 characters

Photo of Hahnin
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty awesome beer, hoppy and bitter but with a mild /crisp aftertaste. Well balanced, and just delicious. I am looking forward to trying the grapefruit

 153 characters

Photo of wdberkley
4.26/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I hate to call this a typical IPA, but it kinda is. Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and is loaded with tasty hops like a duck....

Soooo much better than Grapefruit Sculpin

 179 characters

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

355ml Can from Brewdog online shop (£3.50):
This one was an excellent offering from Ballast Point, exactly what I was expecting with plenty of hop bitterness and beautiful tropical fruits. There was a nice kick to the beer with some great pine and citrus flavours making the beer a classic and easily one of the best of the style that I've tried, there's only a couple others that I would rate higher.

 402 characters

Photo of Stevem68
4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear light Amber. Has a piny citrus aroma. Has a pine flavor with a background of citrus peel. Leaves a mild bitter citrus aftertaste. Very nice well balanced IPA overall.

 180 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Canned on Aug 11, 2015 so it's a little over 2 months old. Served cold.

Appearance: orange with bits of yellow in there. Nice fluffy head. Well carbonated.

Nose: citrus, oranges, grapefruit, a bit tropical, piney, classic San Diego IPA

Taste: Hoppy and delicious. Bright citrus fruit, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, hops are very present but balance the beer well. Nice mouthfeel from the moderate carbonation. Very crushable.

Overall: Grapefruit Sculpin was better, Habanero Sculpin was much worse IMO. This is a classic SoCal IPA.

 537 characters

Photo of MHurley
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I absolutely Love this Ipa! Pours a solid creamy orange color with finger amount of farm house white head. Thin lacing but it sticks around for awhile. Smells of citrus fruits fell the nose along with pine and the taste to follow! Citrus, pine and hoppy, mmm Mmm good! Great brew from Ballast Point of out San Diego Ca.

 319 characters

Photo of Erlkoenig
3.96/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Bright yellow-copper, clear and lively with carbonation. BEAUTIFUL frothy head. Head dissipates at a moderate rate leaving just a bit of lacing.

S: Pine, citrus, grapefruit, very sharp and hoppy. A little tropical.

T: The Sculpin packs a punch. Hop flavor straight forward, the citrus and grapefruit and pine from the nose alternating on the palate. It's pretty much what I'd expect from a classic American IPA with added bitterness in the aftertaste.

F: Medium-bodied, silky-smooth, well-carbonated, probably a bunch of other descriptors with a hyphen in them. 'S good.

O: With the hype around the Sculpin and its Grapefruit sister, I was a little disappointed. Not in the beer as a great IPA, mind you; it was very good. I was disappointed that it wasn't something "more". That said, it's a solid brew and if you want a well-crafted, somewhat more bitter American IPA, this is a good bet.

 897 characters

Photo of jeswasgui
3.9/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a vibrant copper color with a finger white head and good lace retention. The aroma had more of a malt smell to it than a hop smell. Some orange aroma to it but in the end the malts dominate. The taste is similar to the smell with some bitterness to it. It has a sticky feel to it as the lacing would suggest. I would consider it very good but not spectacular.

 366 characters

Photo of MaltyPythonsHopCircus
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L orange, slightly hazy. Frothy head
A tropical fruit, some dankness
T perfect level of upfront bitterness. Malt is flavourful with a hint of sweetness
F slightly grainie, dry but no astringency
O so well balanced. Love it

 225 characters

Photo of hotmailmsn
3.74/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

7% ABV, 70 IBU, 650ml bottle.
A - dark orange clear with one finger head.
S - grapefruit, lemon peel, pine, fresh cut grass, sweet malt, spice, tropical fruit, a bit mango. (smell like Sierra Nevada torpedo extra IPA, piney)
T - welly carbonated, dry palate, it's more in the piney, peel, hoppy side rather than sweet malty. little bitterness lasting yet not overpowering.
O - a really representative west coast IPA, solid beer, great balanced, piney, malty, hoppy, dry, bitten as lingering. luckily I can try one of the best IPA, but for $10 CAD a bottle, I would rather get local BC ipa, which has great amount of fantastic beers (like fat tug, amnesiac, red racer DIPA) with lower prices, haha

 696 characters

Photo of brewmeister1984
3.4/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not sure if this was an old bottle or not but was extremely disappointed with this one. Malt bomb with a strange aftertaste. The grapefruit version is a step up. I wish ballast point put bottling dates since I can't be completely sure. At any rate, wouldn't spend my money on this again.

 287 characters

Photo of ricke49
4.77/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Great balance of piney and grapefruit notes with malt sweetness. Slides down at 7 ABV like silk. Bit of a premium price but a reasonable occasional 'treat'. Great job by San Diego brewer!

 189 characters

Photo of rynomagic
3.83/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Solid IPA. Has all the qualities you want from an IPA, but the taste isn't there for me. Pours well, good head and has a good, hearty feel. I enjoyed my 5g keg but I'll stick with the cans going forward.

 203 characters

Photo of Bob_Rhoades
4.74/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic IPA. Smells of pineapple and grapefruit. Tastes like biting into a very ripe grapefruit at first, then the well-balanced barley hits your palate. This is a perfect representation of an American IPA.

 210 characters

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.

 1,725 characters

Photo of Secondfiddle7
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Just a delicious West Coast IPA. Not sure that the $70 case price (on the East Coast) is justified when I can buy a Lagunitas IPA for $40 a case, but Sculpin is a freaking delicious beer that is well crafted and I like to have a few in the fridge at all times, and there are times when I open the fridge, see it, and smile. On draft, it is smooth and so very drinkable!

 369 characters

Photo of JackieKu
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz can.

A: Clear pale amber. Great amount of foam and nice retention.
S: Tropical fruits, mainly pineapple. A little bit grassy.
T: Pineapple, grapefruit. Moderate bitterness. Dry. Bitter finish.
M: Creamy, medium- bodied. Medium carbonation.
O: Classic well brewed American IPA.

 282 characters

Photo of Ksmoove27
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - poured an copper color, with a one finger off white head...nice lacing

Smell - floral, hoppy and citrus....a very pleasant nose full

Taste - a dry hoppiness, citrus with some pineyness...it does have a bit of a harsh aftertaste..

Feel - It's crisp, good carbonation, very refreshing

Overall -It's a very good IPA which is near the top of my list, but the aftertaste keeps AleSmith at the top.

 404 characters

Photo of headlessparrot
3.84/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Does the world really need another Sculpin review? Absolutely not. But.

Pours from the 750mL bomber a caramel-y orange/amber colour, slightly hazy (chill-haze?) and capped by three fingers of rocky, uneven foam that persists decently and leaves a metric tonne of lacing on the glass.

Smell is piney, citrusy goodness. Slightly soapy. Orange zest, grapefruit zest. Resin. Very green.

Taste is much the same. Piney, citrusy. Slightly soapy, a bit of biscuity/crackery malt. Bitter but not overpoweringly so, although the finish is a bit of a mouth-puckerer. Good, balanced body and moderate carbonation.

An enjoyable IPA, but my controversial take: not worth the price Ballast Point asks, and not necessarily better than any great *local* IPA you might be able to get your hands on out there.

 794 characters

Photo of mastergintoki
4.41/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can
L: nice color kind of copperish, head subsided rather quickly
S: sweet. Hoppy, floral and citrusy. Has a bitter smell
T: it has bitterness but the sweetness that acvompanies it is great.. Some grapefruit peel.t. very balanced ipa
F: its very easy to drink. Medium mouthfeel
O: Very nice IPA. I prefer their habanero and grapefruit sculpin but its one of my fave ipa

 385 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,345 ratings.