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.

Habanero Sculpin - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Habanero SculpinHabanero Sculpin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

447 Reviews
THE BROS
96
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 447
Hads: 2,260
Avg: 3.76
pDev: 35.11%
Wants: 174
Gots: 619 | FT: 13
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: billshmeinke on 02-26-2011

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.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Habanero Sculpin Alström Bros
Reviews: 447 | Hads: 2,260
Photo of MJSFS
3.36/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured in a pint glass. Large two finger head with very large bubbles. Not much of a nose which really deceives what is lying within. This is pepper spray IPA. Interesting novelty, but not something I will ever revisit.

 219 characters

Photo of biegaman
4.27/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In the words of Johnny Cash: "Love is a burning thing. And it makes a fiery ring". My love is for hops, and bound by wild desire, I've fallen here into a ring of fire. Habanero Sculpin has a fiery orange colour and highlights that grow higher (though ironically the head looks like what comes out of a fire extinguisher).

Spice can't be sensed by smell, though just to be safe I wouldn't let the liquid touch my nose. Habanero Sculpin has an aroma virtually identical to that of the regular Sculpin - which is to say awesomely hoppy. Citrus and tropical fruits abound, their heaping piles of peel and pulp are very enticing.

Juicy fruit notes distract the palate while the habaneros go about setting fire to your throat; each sip peels off a layer of mucus or flesh or whatever it is that lines your the inside of your neck and the back of the mouth. It is soft but steady burn that's more the like glowing embers than seething blue flames.

But it's definitely hot! Not an empty heat, however, the taste of the actual peppers is discernible and plays to the lime-like flavour and acidity of the hops, not to mention the vague notion of bitter green herbs. I can think of few beers better designed to pair with food. This recipe is genius, the execution perfect.

It goes without saying that those who enjoy hot peppers will love the beer. More impressive, however, is that even those without the affinity for heat should enjoy it as well. The spiciness is prominent, yes, but is but a cup of coffee in the finish; it doesn't last long and leaves pine and grapefruit to do their things.

If there isn't already an official beer of San Diego I nominate Habanero Sculpin. It combines the sunny, citrusy California climate with caliente Mexican heat. There is no better liquid accompaniment to tacos anywhere on the planet. If I ever find myself on death row my last meal will be fried white fish tacos, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and a bottle of this. Heaven with a kick!

 1,993 characters

Photo of cjgator3
3.81/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. I've been looking forward to trying this one for a while. In my opinion, the balance between the citrusy hops and the heat from the habaneros is damn near perfect. You definitely get some heat from the spices, but it is not too subtle nor does it overpower the beer. Well done.

 290 characters

Photo of HiWire
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden yellow with 1/2 finger head with minimal retention. Smells spicy, who would have guessed? Spicy, peppery throughout drinking with classic sculpin cleaness. Numbs the lips a bit. Solid 1 drink then done, can't see myself taking down a six pack. Might throw one into some red beans or gumbo.

 304 characters

Photo of SStein
3.77/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a crisp, clear amber with good lacing. Smells of citrus, and hides the coming spice. Citrus upfront then the habanero hits. Decent carbonation, but with the spice it is not s gulper. Drank half by itself, and added the other half to a michelada, which was great.

 273 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.84/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Have had this iteration in a few different formats. Looks the part of sculpin, a darker yellow, west coast ipa. Aroma kicks you with both heat and hops. Heat from the peppers that is, not alcohol.

Taste, wooo, this is hot, but not so hot that it is the only thing you taste. The body comes off even lighter given the carbonation and heat. Starts to get tiresome downbottle.

 379 characters

Photo of morrisseywilde
4.49/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For me this is a bucket list beer. Very glad to have tried it, but not sure I would need another. Probably the most interesting and unique beer I have ever had. Color is golden clear, nice head. Smell is hoppy and piney with a faint aroma of the peppers. Taste is truly surprising. I really love how they went for it and didn't hold back on the habanero, but it is pretty overpowering if you are not familiar with it. The heat is intense, and it is surreal to be drinking something that makes you want to drink something to take away the heat (try bread if you must). I think they nailed the hop to habanero balance, and again it is wonderful that they really brought the spicy capsaicin flavor in without apologies; it is just a bit much for me. Hops and of course peppers stay on your palate for a long while, this is a beer to sip slowly and savor. The Ballast Point top shelf craft excellence is all over this. If you are an IPA guy like me this is a must-try - very glad I got to do so. But for now I will stick with the Sculpin Grapefruit as my go to Ballast Point beer.

 1,076 characters

Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.19/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle into pint glass in November 2015. No date on the bottle.

Appearance: Golden with light head. Beer color is clear. Head is thick, and leaves a thick film on the glass.

Smell: Aroma dominated by hops, and citrus. There is some pine aroma as well, but it is dominated by the citrus.

Taste: The spicy flavor is a pleasant surprise. The taste is also dominated by the bite from the hops. There is also citrus fruit flavors. The aftertaste has with a bite from the hops and spice.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium alcohol, which confirms the 7.0% on the bottle.

This is a smooth light-bodied APA. The spice makes this ale more interesting.

 664 characters

Photo of SerialTicker
4.24/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Welcome to Michigan, Ballast Point -- it's about time. Bottled October 29th. The bottle was $2.99. Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

Appearance: A clear golden color with two fingers of a soapy white head. Active carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass. There's also quite a bit of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Piney and peachy like I remember the original Sculpin being when I had it over two years ago. The difference being, this beer's added habanero shows up in the aroma as well. It's not super strong, but it's there, and adds an interesting twist. This is a pleasing, fresh, and light smelling beer that smells unique with the peppery aroma.

Taste/feel: For some reason, straight out of the fridge, my first sip reminded me faintly of ginger ale, and in a not pleasant way. After that first sip, I fortunately didn't get that again. This is a pretty nice beer. The peach flavor and malt sweetness with the piney hops and habanero burn makes for a very strange, albeit good, experience. As the bottle says, "heat may vary", since habaneros are so fickle in their Scoville levels. The mouthfeel is medium in body and carbonation, the latter of which intensifies the burn and ensures an afterburn. For some reason, I'm finding that this beer has a little less flavor than I remember Sculpin having. That's likely due in part to the fact this variety has habaneros, but also because I'm still getting over a cold.

Habanero Sculpin is pretty tasty and interesting ... I just don't understand the reasoning for the terrible scores. Alright, fine, say you can't man up and take the heat (which in my opinion is "moderate" at worst), but don't say the beer tastes like Tabasco -- that implies it tastes like hot sauce, which is stupidly inaccurate. I will agree that it's not as good as the original, but just because the base of this beer doesn't taste like I remember. Regardless, worth a try if you think you can handle the heat.

 1,949 characters

Photo of Lysaghtjeremy
4.75/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look, it's made with habaneros. It's going to be spicy. I grow them, along with Carolina reapers and many other super hots. Don't get on here and ruin a beers reputation because it's too hot for you. It says habanero on the bottle. Rule of thumb is, if you enjoy peppers, and you enjoy I.P.As, you'll LOVE this beer. If not, just say it's not for you. Don't say it's awful.
Nose-fresh Habs creamy mouthfeel from 1 finger head. Perfect hop, malt, heat balance.spicy dry finish. Give me MORE (Although perfect heat for me, a bit hotter than it should be to please the general public) I need this recipe!

 601 characters

Photo of far333
3.32/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Crystal clear copper colored with a bright beige head that settles out quickly and leaves a low cap. Bright aroma of citrus hops, no sign of the sweltering heat that lies quietly beneath. Flavor of citrusy hops upfront, could be your standard benign Sculpin, but shortly a spicy note emerges and goes from a low simmer to a rolling boil, and shortly morphs to a dallop of lava swirling over the tongue and cheeks. A faint numbness eventually sets in to even it out. I like spice and heat but this feels just a bit overdone to me. Not much, a little. Interesting beer and definitely worth a try.

 600 characters

Photo of Act25
4.09/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Must try! Consuming with Sausage, spaghetti squash and prima vera sauce. Should be served at every mex restaurant. Probably good for you too. Definitely a sipper.

A: As good as an Sculpin, dark amber clear body fringed continually with lots of lace and dense white head.

S: Citrusy, rich tropical, and grapefruit ringed and dominated by a hot roasted pepper edge.

T: I get a touch of malt biscuit, up front, crushed by a citrusy/habanero blast that dominates the tongue through to the finish. takes peppery bitterness to a new level. I had to put this aside so it was my last beer of evening or my palate would be wrecked.

F: Medium body with moderate carbonation; with a burning sensation tingles the lips and tongue.

O: Must try. Makes me want to try all of these, but definitely a 1 per session beer.

 813 characters

Photo of Can_has_beer
3.94/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a hot little number, much like my ex wife (screw you Jasmine!), and it may be tasty at first, but it will burn you bad, and then fuck all of your friends.

 162 characters

Photo of Hahnin
5/5  rDev +33%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is bold, unique, and will kick your fucking dick off. It is spicy, but it doesn't linger longer than it should. I think this beer will be hit or miss for most people. For me, like almost every other Ballast Point, it is a grand slam.

 243 characters

Photo of Raider89
4.8/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer is not for the timid. It has a robust spicy bite, outstanding aroma and clear golden color with a faint head. The spice is indeed a kick to the senses, but for those who enjoy that, this beer will make you happy!

 224 characters

Photo of bnes09
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance much like any other ipa. However, if you look closely, you can see tiny Habanero flakes floating in the new, ready to scorch the palate. Strong hop nose with subtle citrusy pepper notes. Flavor is a fairly aggressive heat and delectable habanero flavor. Hops are bold yet seem the lie in the background with pine and grapefruit notes. Just a hint of honey- like sweetness from the malt. Very well balanced. Medium bodied. Perfect carbonation. Lingering spice tingles the tongue. Overall, a very well executed pepper ipa.

 534 characters

Photo of glass_house
3.74/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a lot like Sculpin...until the raw habanero heat kicks in during the finish. It's hot. Imagine that. If you don't like habanero, you won't like this. That being said, it's an interesting novelty, but not something I'd ever drink on a regular basis. I have found that it pairs very well with some spicy salsa, cheese, wings, etc. Pour a couple oz. for an unsuspecting friend and enjoy the hilarity that ensues.

 417 characters

Photo of NorthSideSean
2.96/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Love Sculpin. Love grapefruit Sculpin as much if not more so. I'm good with heat so was willing to pony up a big $16 for a 6'er. Rarely write reviews but... consider this a public service announcement. This is awful. Tastes like you left your beer to go piss and your friends pranked you and dumped a bunch of burning hot sauce in your pint glass. Don't let your enjoyment of Sculpin trick you into wasting your hard earned beer money on this Tabasco IPA.

 455 characters

Photo of rdilauro
4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

For starters I am a hot pepper fanatic. Habanero's are generally on the low end of my hot scale.
I have loved Scuplin for a couple of years now and was crazy about the Grapefruit version.
The pour on this one to me was just a bit hazier and more amber rust in color. it produced a fairly large creamy head, but it did not last long
I spent some time trying to pick out any hot pepper in the nose. I could not get past the hoppiness, pine resin grapefruit aroma. That first taste without a question that haberneo flavor, smoky and so pronounced.
THere was not a lot of heat, just enough to let you know there was so hot pepper in there
Very VERY Enjoyable

 659 characters

Photo of hosehead83
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass.
Tawny gold in color, with a huge billowy head of foam.
Aroma-Big whiff of tropical hops and underlying pepper
Taste-Spicy, peppery heat. Hops and malt way in the background.A slow-sipper that would do well with a food pairing to either match or complement this lip-tingling, HOT brew.

 319 characters

Photo of SitkaSteve
3.52/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So I have finally come to this one, might actually be one of my hardest to say anything about since I joined BA. Reason being, after 3 of these, I found the aroma and the flavor to never have the same heat level. Haha, once I hit that fourth one and found right on the bottom of the bottle: "Heat will vary." Yeah, well now, I feel like a dunce. Here's my sign and the rest as follows:
Into a pint glass, the appearance had a ruddy burnt yellow color with a soft one finger foamy white head that dissipated pretty quickly. Lacing was thin and speckled.
The aroma had the Sculpin qualities and then like said intro, varying heat in different bottles. After having gone through the entire sixer, I threw inside my measly brain and thought to myself "self, why the fuck would any brewery ever put that on their bottles?" I never homebrewed, so I still don't know why BP said that.
The taste, yeah, the same, Sculpin flavors with varying heat, need I say more.
The mouthfeel singes my tongue, whoah there Nelly! Might have varying heat, but hey, fuck me out to wazoo and bend me over sideways to one. All six bottles made my tongue bend over appropriately as an AIPA and provide some degree of heat even if it did vary. Not exactly sessionable.
Overall, an AIPA bringin' da heat, you know, it does do that, just not every bottle. Nice to try, but honestly, I had this sixer since July, so what does that tell you, small doses, please.

 1,430 characters

Photo of probert
2.72/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

Looks, even smells like a normal beer until about 2 seconds after it goes down. Then you get the burn in your throat from the habernero's. The bartender didn't think I would finish it but I did manage to drink the whole thing but won't be getting it again. I guess if you like inferno chicken wings or the like it might be your style.

 337 characters

Photo of charlzm
2.9/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 1

Finally tried this on draft last night. Looks and smells just like regular Sculpin. My first sip (which, it turned out, was my only sip), tasted fine for a fraction of a second. Then, an earthy pepper flavor was noted a split second before a burst of chili heat.

Putting chili in beer ruins it. Period, full stop.

Regular Sculpin and its grapefruit variation are fantastic beers but this is an abomination.

 412 characters

Photo of mothmanscott
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep gold bordering on a pale amber producing 2 fingers of frothy, variously bubbled, moderately lasting, white head that leaves a nice coating of lace much like its non-chili namesake. Aroma is pine resin, grapefruit pith & zest & chili pepper with pineapple, orange, peach & sweet caramel trying to emerge in the background. Taste is chili pepper & grapefruit, pine, juniper, pineapple, peach, sweet & bready cobbler pie dough, vanilla & a hint of honey with the sweeter & malty portions at mid-sip but all becomes masked by habanero chili flavor & spice in the finish. Aftertaste is chili, bitter & citrus that becomes bound up and sinks below the surface of a lasting & moderately intense chili pepper spice. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium-high carbonation, slick & wet in the mouth, drying after the swallow, with pepper spice & a high octane peppery prickle. A great chili beer & my first experience with an IPA chili brew.

 951 characters

Photo of SLambert0926
2.75/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

First of all, I love spicy food, so I was very optimistic about this beer and had to look hard to find it locally. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This one had a very good initial flavor, but very quickly, all I could taste was the pepper. It wasn't too hot and didn't last long, but I didn't like the taste. I will say that I did not have any food with it and plan to save the last one until I can try it with some good heavy food. If my opinion changes then, I'll come back and re-rate it.

 498 characters

Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 447 ratings.