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Sculpin IPA - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

11,195 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,195
Reviews: 2,297
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.75%
Wants: 1,180
Gots: 3,060 | FT: 49
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: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 11,195 | Reviews: 2,297
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.

Photo of Knapp85
4.42/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.69/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -15%

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.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Finally, at long last, I got the chance to enjoy a sculpin. actually, I enjoyed three of them! the setting was the strip house steak joint in the planet Hollywood casino in las vegas, Nevada. I sat down with my hockey teammates, who all ordered a fancy cabernet, but I asked to glance at the beer list, and there it was, sculpin ipa. it poured a beautiful cloudy grassy pale golden color, with an inch or so of off white head that lasts forever, leaves excellent lacing, and is easily reinvigorated with a swirl the wine glass I asked the server to bring me. the nose on it is long and hoppy, but not in that dank oily sweet fruity way that some of these are, but more subtle, not more simple, but more in focus, more sure of its identity. there are notes of fresh pineapple and spruce, but this is neither bitter nor sweet. its got an impressive degree of malt balance, as well as a yeast character that reminds me of some of the European ipa offerings. the flavor is standalone. its got a gorgeous hop bouquet, with some floral notes in there too, but I cannot quite place any of the specific varietals. less citrus and more pine than I expected, and a forever finish that's both refreshing and filling to a degree. the alcohol is impossible to pick out. feel is also lovely, with effervescently bright carbonation that tickles the tongue without being invasive, and a medium body that doesn't stand in the way of the flavor. this was the absolutely perfect complement to a 20 ounce bone in ribeye, dry aged, rare. I had three of these with my steak, and would have had more if they weren't 12 bucks a go. what a glorious ipa this is, distinct from the crowd, and worth every word of the hype. really sensational brew.

Photo of womencantsail
4.82/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 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.

Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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.

Photo of emerge077
4.3/5  rDev -2.5%
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...

Photo of zeff80
4.84/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

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.

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -9.3%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.24/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Photo of oline73
3.94/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a mildly cloudy golden/light amber color with two fingers of fluffy white head. A layer of head remains.

Smell: Sweet and fruity hops with a hint of citrus fruit.

Taste: More bitterness and less sweetness compared to the smell. The dominant flavor is a strong citrus peel bitterness. There are hints of fruit(apricot) and herbs as well. There is a mild malt sweetness and a very bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a lot of tingly carbonation. The finish is on the dry side.

Overall: This is a really good IPA, but I don't know that It lives up the the hype. Both times I've had it, it has been from a bottle, so I'll look for it on tap when I get the chance. It's really bitter, but not super interesting other than that. I would have it again.

Photo of nickfl
4.36/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of white foam on top of a perfectly clear, copper colored body. The head settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace.

S - Sweet, fruity hops with notes of orange and mango as well as a sweaty note in the background. Lots of bready malt and toffee as well.

T - Sweet malt and orange hops up front. Lots of sugary toffee in the middle with pine, orange, and mango hop flavors. The beer finishes with rich, sweet malt and some caramel with lingering mango and orange from the hops.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick, rich, and impeccably well balanced. The fruity hop profile works very well with the malt and provides just enough bitterness to keep it drinkable. Not as pungently hoppy as some other west coast IPAs, but it is round and smooth in a way that you almost never see in this style while also expressing a really excellent hop profile.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.62/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of Jason
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of Kegatron
4.59/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ the Old Grove Ballast Point location on 3/18/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a fairly clear shiny copper, with a thin covering of bright-white frothy head. This stays rich and creamy for the most part, leaving some thick foamy lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is just chock full of juicy grapefruit, mango, and pineapple notes (with the emphasis on the grapefruit), floral hops, and spice. Bready caramel malts work with some of the tropical fruits to give the nose a bit of a sweet edge. Just so fresh and hoppy smelling. Mmmm....

The taste is aggressive up front with a firm dose of hops, laying a ton of spice and pine on the roof of the mouth. That succulant blend of tropical fruits and toasted caramel helps drench the mouth with a sticky and juicy blend of sweetness. Just great balance between the two extremes. Spice and resins linger for a good long bit in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a prickly creaminess to it that expands on the palate. This stays very smooth in the mouth overall, laying just the right amount of a sharp prickle on the tongue that really brings the bitterness of the hops out. And did I mention that the ABV is pretty non-existent? Yeah, that's pretty awesome too..

Just a classic American IPA here from Ballast Point, that combine massive but well balanced West Coast hop flavors into a wonderfully smooth and easydrinking package (for the size of it at least!). Just awesome stuff here as usual, that tasted the best that it could here on draft at the source.

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a barely foggy amber with a thin creme head. Nose is pine resin and slight citric tones. Flavor is that biting acrid salty hops tone. Pine is definitely there. It's biting, but still smooth enough somehow. Feel is typical on liquid and carbonation is even. This is an easy to drink IPA, but it's best judged when you look at it as a San Diego IPA as opposed to an IPA in general. Still, I like it.

Photo of mendvicdog
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of jlindros
4.37/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've head so much about this gem I've been salivating already since I finally found the bottle yesterday. Must be pretty fresh too. I'll have to pour this baby into my oversized DFH snifter, as with any awesome IPA.

A: Pours an airy decent sized head, little less than a finger. Lots of large bubbles disperse throughout as it slowly fades to a light head covering. It lightly covers the golden pale orange and pretty hazy color that almost mask the myriad of little bubbles rising to the top.

N: Oh yeah, with the crazy noble hops! Lots of pine and some citrus, it's got that similar malty like nose that most crazy ass IPAs have, that almost reminds me of a sweet like crystal malt, but it's actually the hops I believe. I think my nose is cringing from the bitterness itself and I haven't even tasted it yet. Lots of spiciness from the hops and some floral qualities also run deep. I get some juicy fruit (not the gum dammit!) thats almost a musty peach or apricot, but its not. Oh that brings me to my next point, it has that somewhat musty aroma that most fresh crazy hopped IPAs have, but this one is a lot more subtle than most.

T: Oh yeah, I can taste it too huh?! Sorry, still nosing it. Mhhmmmpppfff... Wow bitterness right out front. Lots of noble hops with pine and citrus hit right away, and it fades quickly to a really juicy and fruity hop taste, more ripe peach. A very slight malty taste, but it just flicks you enough to make you notice its there. The bitterness again takes over and really dominates once the juice fades. More musty tropical fruit taste in the center, that transforms into a piney minty taste, that reminds me of that time I ate a bunch of pine cones wrapped in mint leaves. Some hop resin and oil find their way through and tickle your tongue a little.

M: Semi thick with a slight sticky hop oil feel, actually its got a really rich fatty oil quality like an unchill-filtered whisky. Decent carbonation but nothing to brag about in this dep, not that that is bad. Also, slightly spicey hops.

F: Damn! It's bitter. What's the IBUs, some huge number? It almost scrapes the feeling off my tongue, like the crazy sculpin fish on the label. But it is saved by a slight touch of sweetness as its not too dry, and the juicy center really eases that tension. The bitterness leaves a winterfresh mouth feel, like I just used mouthwash, I'm totally serious. I think the crazy piney bitterness lingering along, and added the slight fruit it tricks the taste buds into tasting that.

Final thoughts: Wow, it was just as I anticipated. A crazy hop bomb with little malts, lots of pine, citrus, juicy fruit hops, some spice, and lots of greatness. The thing that did surprise me was the slight minty mouthwash feel. If this wasn't so limited and expensive I'd really use it as mouthwash and it would be so great!

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.18/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours clear orange from a 12 ounce can yielding a one-inch thick off-white head which leaves rings and spots of lace.

N: Juicy tropicals (mango and kiwi), peaches, floral. Very aromatic.

T: Citrus (tangerine and grapefruit), herbal dankness, caramel bready malt for balance and slight pine.

M: Moderate body and medium carbonation. Dry, sticky, resiny, and bitter finish.

O: A solid all around IPA. The can format is nice and packable/transportable.

Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -9.3%

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 11,195 ratings.