Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
474 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: 474 | Ratings: 2,383
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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Photo of 98green
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks like sculpin. Smells like sculpin. Tastes likes sculpin. But you came for the heat. Yeah it burns. It isn't insane or anything, but the tingle is real. Even got a few beads of sweat. I think there is even some nice "green" taste from the peppers. This is a winner, but I think one in an evening is plenty

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Photo of OldManMetal
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This habanero IPA is a slightly hazy, sparkling deep gold beer with a medium fluffy white head; lacing is only fair, but cryptic, consisting of abstract structures that show some very unusual variations in coarseness. The aroma is a medium-intensity blend of pineapple, citrus and sweetish florals, with slight alcohol overtones; no habanero notes are detected. Up front, bitter pineapple is dominant, and a notable chile heat is present; by mid-palate the heat reigns supreme, although the pineapple notes are still discernable. Again, habanero flavor notes (fruity and vegetal) are absent. The finish shows a moderate bittersweet nutty character, followed by a nice chile burn at the back of the throat. The linger is a whole-mouth chile burn of significant intensity, with a less apparent style-moderate piney bitterness behind it, and lasts quite awhile. Mouthfeel is biggish for the light body, and the texture is slightly creamy and medium-peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. The label notes that "heat may vary"; this particular beer has a capsaicin burn intensity that I would equate with a thick stripe of El Yucateco green on an otherwise mild enchilada: satisfyingly assertive but not overbearing. Given that I eat stupidly spicy food, that probably means that this beer would be unpleasantly spicy to a normal American palate. (12 oz bottle, illegible code date)

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Photo of avflinsch
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

light amber, notes of citrus, pine and fruit - pepper is forward in the nose the aroma of the habanero is unmistakeable

this brew is surprisingly good, the heat is present but not overpowering, not a brew that is to be gulped or chugged (that might prove to be painful)

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Photo of auroracrisis
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz into a snifter.

Deep orange with a little head that disspiates into foam. Clear body

Smell is pine, citrus, and peppers. Lots of hot peppers.

On the tongue there is citrus rind with a huge kick of heat that lingers for a long time.

Mouth feel is thin medium with a touch of carbonation, heat on the finish that lingers.

A great IPA with a huge dose of awesome pepper flavors and a hot finish.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.91/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Ballast Point Brewing Co. "Habanero Sculpin"
on tap @ The Boathouse, Conshohocken, PA

Pepper beers are always a personal thing. You can review it as you would any other beer, but in the end it's always hedonistic when it comes to having a glass in front of you. Personally I like pepper beers. I like the flavor of the pepper, and the spiciness. With that said, I found a nice habanero flavor to it, which is always hard to get because of the heat, even if you've de-veined and de-seeded. I know people will argue that point, but keep in mind I'm saying I liked that they got a good amount of flavor. They did a good job. As to drinkability, that's up to your palate. I was a little worn out halfway through, but not to the point I couldn't finish it.

On the other hand, after a few sips I was losing the habanero flavor. And that goes for the IPA itself, which is a bit disappointing (because why not just use a basic golden ale?), but at the same time good in that it allows for the beer to continue for a bit. Flavor-wise I feel it's a trade-off. The habanero is nice, but then you don't get the full Sculpin experience.

In the end, about halfway through the serving I'd had enough. Not that I couldn't finish it, but that my senses were shot and there didn't really seem to be any reason to keep going. So, in conclusion, I'm going to place this above a lot of other pepper beers, but still say that it has limited drinkability. I'd drink this at the end of the night for a change of pace, or on special occasions (i.e. backyard BBQ, Cinco de Mayo, etc) - I might even drink it if I just got the passing desire for something peppery - but I wouldn't drink it on a regular basis.

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Photo of JLaw55
1/5  rDev -73.3%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Horrendous. Took a great beer and made it undrinkable. I like spicy, but not this. Tried twice and couldn't stomach it. It was in your face, unadulterated heat. Nothing but heat with a small touch of hops on the back end, once your face finishes melting that is.

Would drink again: No
Would purchase again: No

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Photo of JMD
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Bright amber with orange tones, foamy white head that fades slowly.

S: Big hop aroma, citrus and tropical fruits. Big hints of mandarin orange and peach, with some light earthy pine.

T: Wow, big IPA flavor, but holy shit, the habaneros bring the heat! Big time. Big juicy IPA flavors that we love about Sculpin with liquid fire added. After a few sips you can feel the heat on your lips and tongue.

F: Medium bodied, typical ipa

O: Well crafted and interesting. I couldn't drink more than one of these for sure, but this is still an outstanding beer for what it is. Its exactly what you would expect. Great Sculpin flavor with habanero fire added. I love hot spicy food, so I found this one enjoyable.

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 474 ratings.