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Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
482 Reviews
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Habanero SculpinHabanero Sculpin

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:
Our Sculpin IPA with Habanero Pepper began as a crazy experiment that’s taken on a life of its own. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite has made the original one of our favorites, this version takes that balance of flavors to the next level with the citrusy, floral heat of habaneros. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick.

Added by billshmeinke on 02-26-2011

User Reviews
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Reviews: 482 | Ratings: 2,408
Photo of zshaft
2.91/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

holy crap. this beer is like drinking hot sauce. its hot. tastes like spoiled green peppers. ugg. won't be drinking this again. this is the worst. why is this a beer.

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Photo of leantom
4.48/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I thought that this beer was just as good as regular Sculpin. Here goes:

A: Great. Clear orange-amber with a large head and great lacing. Also fairly decent body carbonation. Just like regular Sculpin.

S: Smells just like regular Sculpin. Pine, flowers, herbs, a tinge of grapefruit, and some malt sweetness. Overall, very well-balanced.

T: Follows the nose, which is a good thing. Also accompanied, however, by some spice from the capsaicin (courtesy of the habanero extract). Spice is most apparent at the back of the tongue and on the lips. Can also feel it in the chest after consumption.

F: Great. Nice and smooth - dangerously drinkable.

O: I felt that this beer was just as good as the regular Sculpin. It's really just Sculpin with added spice.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, no bottled on date present. Finally getting around to reviewing this one; acquired a single bottle of this stuff at the local bottle shop. "India Pale Ale with Habanero Peppers Added" "Heat May Vary".

Poured into a Duvel tulip snifter.

A - Pours a juicy cloudy golden orange body, lots of sediment in the glass with two fingers of frothy fluffy off-white head that lingers, leaving some random scattered lacing. Appears aptly carbonated. Looks very nice.

S - A nice traditional IPA aroma: fresh herbal / floral hop aroma, with some balancing bready biscuit malt sweetness. A fresh, floral, & soapy aroma; no real indication of any vegetal, peppers, or heat as far as I'm concerned.

T - The fruity / juicy hop presence & the sweet bready malts fade quickly, as the habanero pepper heat quickly takes over. The peppers are authentic; juicy & vegetal, very delicious stuff, until the fiery capsicum heat hits you. It's definitely very good, but the heat is, for me, very overpowering to the point of being unenjoyable. If you enjoy tons of heat / spice, then this is for you. Notes of juicy fruity grapefruit, orange, mango, lemon are perceivable beneath the waves of heat.

M - The feel is smooth, crisp, & creamy. A fairly light-bodied, well carbonated beer, but the fiery heat makes this very difficult to drink, almost to the point of being unbearable. Definitely a beer meant to be savored and sipped, probably best served with food.

Overall, a unique and interesting beer, to be damn sure. If fiery IPA's (or spicy food in general) then i can't think of a better beer for you. The pinnacle of habanero IPA's for the fans. For the rest of you, avoid.

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin -----4/5.

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Photo of Czequershuus
3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer pours a hazy orange with a large head. The aroma reminds me of classic Sculpin - Grapefruit is dominant, with some mango, pine, and a touch of pineapple. The flavor starts with a tropical fruit, as well as grapefruit and orange peel, and then the spice hits. There is no discernible pepper flesh flavor, it is all pure capsaicin, searign brillint spice tearnign through the second half and swallow of the beer. The mouthfeel feel is whatever my mouth can still feel. At this point the spice does dominate. However, as a chili beer it does work. Unlike others I have had I could easily finish a glass of this, and I did not end up with heartburn. First time I enjoyed a light bodied chili beer. I am sold on the concept in stouts and porters, but now I see it can work in a pale ale as well.

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Photo of constantine_272
3.34/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark reddish copper, that foamed up nicele leaving a good lacing. Smells of pine resin with a hint of bell pepper vegetable. The taste, wow, yeah. That's unique. The beer starts off pine and bright but immediately turns vegetable with carrot and bell pepper. The beer finishes with a big rush of heat in the back of the throat and then travels down and warms the stomach. Feel is just heath it obliterates all else. Too much of everything for me. Too much vegetable and too much heat.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.49/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours hazy golden orange with floaties and a big frothy white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is subdued - bready malts, piney hops and a quite a bit of chili pepper.

The flavor is bready malts and some fruit that is quickly overwhelmed by a ton of heat from the pepper. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, nice spice heat, but that overwhelms the base beer. Good chili beer, not much IPA.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Mega-heat. On both counts.
count #1: Habanero Sculpin pushes the standard for IPA alcohol... before it graduates to the imperial IPA.
And it definitely pushes the heat with the Habanero.
Here is my theory on hot (and chile) beers: it should not be spicier than the food.
I had this with a spicy Chinese, Szechuan dish.
The beer was hotter than the dish and I couldn't taste the food.
Beer should complement food, not overpower it.

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Photo of witster18
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I love this beer because the heat from the habenero kinda masks the actual abv. It's truly 'hot', and that's not a bad thing at all. I love the fact this beer gets the heat right. If you don't like hot stuff - you won't like it. Even though the bottle says that heat may vary - the beers I've had have been very consistent. I love the fact it's a sipper beer, because it's a sipper beer you wanna keep sipping, and the heat isn't that 'bad' fermentation heat, it's just straight-up great habanero heat on a great ipa backbone. You can actually taste the habanero, and the grapefruit and citrus backbone o f the ipa still shines nicely. Very good quality overall. I would love this with a super light fruit-filled lunch or other light mid-day fare. Awesome brew.

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Photo of ktferber
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I'm a fan of ballast's sculpins and every one brings something new and unique to the tableand this is no exception. It looks like your typical IPA but a good sniff and you detect the slight aroma of hot peppers. The heat hits you right up front and blends really well with the citrus notes. I've had a few other pepper brews that leave the heat to the back but this one puts it right out there. Very unique and awesome brew but be forewarned if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

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Photo of Skrumpy
3.18/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured 12 oz bottle into standard pint glass. I'm not a big fan of pepper heat. If you are, this may be a winner. I could not finish the bottle. The look is like the Sculpin, and the smell is rather light. The pepper heat kicks in and you can feel it in the back of your throat. I couldn't tell what remaining flavor was there because the heat killed it. I took a few more sips & could feel it in my stomach. Stopped right there. My friend drank it & drank grapefruit Sculpin in between sips. Said it was a good mix.

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Photo of Wsantolucito92
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a barely transparent reddish gold with a quarter inch thick head that after a min or two goes away. Smells like a fresh jalapeño or somethings a little grassy along with grapefruit and citrus hops. Smell gives it away that your mouth will feel some burn as soon as you taste it. Taste is very much as smell, getting the citrus bitter notes as you would normal sculpin and immediately get hit with a grassy tasting capsaicin burning effect that coats your checks and tongue towards the back of your throat before it stops and lingers for a little as it finishes with a grassy bitter and a floral sweetness. Nice carbonation overall but the burn is real. Not so much like a chili burn but more like chewing spicy cinnamon gum. Overall, a really great beer and a must try. It is a little aggressive to throw them back so it makes it a great beer to try on tap once and a blue moon, no orange needed for this one!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up at the COOP, but it is at all the bottleshops and most grocery stores now... Pours clear orange with a nice enough white head.. Traditional CCC hoppiness with a fruity chili flavor and aroma... But the heat builds and becomes unpleasant for my palate.


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Photo of Timothy_Scott_Goeft
3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hell of a flavour. First you taste the heat from the habanero peppers and their good flavouring. Next you have the bitterness of the IPA. Then the habanero adds a dry warming finish.

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Photo of BeernOnThe4thOfJuly
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Very much golden. Pine and Mango on the nose with a subtle pepperiness. Flavor is softly piney with an excellent malt balance. The peppers stay hidden until the end. They sneak in and really warm up the mouth. It's a legitimate and lingering heat. Hot enough I'm wanting food with it to finish the second half.

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Photo of csheridan
4.11/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I love hot & spicy, so really looked forward to this one since I love the traditional Sculpin, Grapefruit, & west coast IPAs in general. Definitely has a kick too it, but the pepper flavor doesn't overpower the nice hop balance, just gives it a nice difference. Appearance was a nice orange (hinting at red, suggesting the peppers). Friends thought it was really hot (but they're not pepper fanatics); if you like hot 'n' spicy, this certainly isn't overpowering, but a nice alternative to the usual!

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Photo of westlaunboy
4.49/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Great IPA (Sculpin) turned into a wonderful sipper with the Habanero addition. By far the best "hot" pepper beer I've ever had - I love spicy stuff, but most of these beers seem to have a gross pepper flavor that overpowers everything else. Not so here. The pepper turns each sip into a minute-long experience, as the hops and then the pepper hit you in waves, lingering until you're ready for another.

I wouldn't recommend it to people who don't like a decent amount of heat, but if you do definitely give this a try. Love sipping it on the porch on a warm evening.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle in a stemmed tulip glass.

Translucent orange color with a touch of red pepper dye, pepper -white colored head, about 1f and modest looking, decent lacing.

Smell of habanero pepper sauce, salted and buttered.

Hot and fresh habanero peppers. Pickled habaneros. There are fresh citrus hops underneath. It's a stretch to pick up the malt, except in just a bit of underlying sweetness.

Heat, that's the feel. Good body, hop tang, touch of sweetness on the end.

"Heat may vary" reads the label. Well, mine varies toward the upper end of the Scoville scale, it was good and hot. Pretty tasty, too.


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Photo of stevoj
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Habanero at the forefront, gently in aroma, moreso in taste, and plenty of burn at finish. Orange golden body with fluffy head. Peppers pretty much obliterate any sign of the Sculpin base, but add some character all their own.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Almost clear burnt orange body under a thick foamy cream colored head that doesn't recede much. Random patches of foamy lacing.

Aroma: Dried habanero peppers, spicy dry hops, subtle fruit.

Taste: A perfect blend of tropical fruit and spicy hops are coated in spicy, hot habanero. A woody, dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and dry, leaves the throat and tongue coated in peppery heat.

Overall: I do love pepper beers, and I found this one to be delicious, and the habanero worked well with the hop character. This went down way too easy, and I absolutely loved the peppery heat it left on the palate.

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Photo of FluffyRumia
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Holy moly does this pack some heat for a beer!
I was pleasantly surprised to find similar hop flavors as the regular sculpin but with a surprisingly hot finish- cant see myself drinking more than one at once but its excellent at what it is-- a hot pepper IPA

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's been taunting me on shelves for months. Might as well see for myself. 12 ounce bottle, brewed mid-February, poured into Belgian ale glass.

L: Standard Sculpin look: 3F+ head with good retention, some lacing and ring. Clear amber color. Carbonation bubbles.

S: Starts with Sculpin citrus, pine, and light biscuit malt, but habanero overpowers really quickly and then that's all you smell. Good if you're congested, though.

T: Habanero. Then more habanero. Continued habanero with habanero finish.

F: Light-medium body, I think. Medium carbonation, I think. Long habenero finish that lingers on tongue even though drying and decent ABV should help that out. I feel almost like Homer Simpson when he eats the Guatemalan Insanity Pepper.

In all seriousness, though, there's just too much habanero and the balance is way out of whack. Nothing stands up to it.

O: Fair to point out I voluntarily purchased and tried this beer. I love Ballast Point. I also love spicy food as long as you can still taste the base food. Maybe there isn't a way to do this without killing the beer dead, but maybe it would work better in something like a mango-habanero mix?

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Photo of maximum12
1.65/5  rDev -56%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Ran to grab a beer I didn’t have to review to close out our draft & accidentally grabbed this monster. One sip told me “oops”. 12 oz. bottle, evidently.

The pour is bright orange whipped into a froth that would do a Carlsbad beach proud. The nose? A touch of evil laced with heat. Only by consuming liter after liter of air do I detect a touch of the citrus base. I think.

Sculpin – Habanero is one of those beers that begs for a deft touch, a perfect drag bunt between the pitcher & first baseman, a wacky-rigged plastic dropped right on the weedline. Alas, it is not so. Sip two start yelling “Fire fire fire fucking fire get out!” & then pulls the fire alarm, a few seconds too late. Heat fills up the mouth & encompasses the palate, driving out anything resembling an IPA. I have to take my fleece off now, probably my pants later if I power through this. Should have split this…but with whom? My wife nor my dog would touch this.

Nothing subtle here – a world-class beer drowned in heat. Not quite in the same class as Stone’s Crime (Against Humanity) but there’s nothing redeeming about this. Not good.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle with illegible date code.

Pours hazy copper with a partial skim coat and minor lacing. Aromatics are subdued with barely a hint of hops or heat. Mild fruit at best. Medium bodied and crisp. A hint of citrus on the palate before the attack of heat from the habaneros. The heat builds on the tongue and throat until the point of it stinging. Finishes with continuing heat.

I like the heat and peppers but the hops are either totally faded at this point or were never there to stand up to the peppers.

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Photo of THSmusicman
4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a Teku glass.

Look: Looks like any other Sculpin variant; a nice amber color with a finger of head that laces the glass nicely.

Smell: Smells like pepper jam and citrusy, grapefruity hops.

Taste: Tastes like a jellied habanero with a perfect amount of heat and a very nice tropical hop profile and a light malt backbone to balance the heat.

Feel: Feels like one would expect a 7% IPA to feel. Ever so slightly resinous but very smooth and drinkable.

Overall: I love this beer. I'm a fan of heat and I love Sculpin so the mix of the two is a fantastic combo. I'm impressed by how well Ballast Point executed this variant and I think that it's their best one.

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Photo of CHickman
3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Basically it's the regular Sculpin with the habanero's in the mix which brings the spicy pepper flavors and plenty of heat. It made my tongue tingle and belly warm, with each sip bringing the burn. A bit too much for me, but a decent variation of the base beer.

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 482 ratings.