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Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
472 Reviews
For Trade:
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: 472 | Ratings: 2,378
Photo of mactrail
2.8/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This is one of those "I dare you" beers. I suppose people either love it or hate it. Looks nice enough in the glass with a decent foam and the attractive clear orangey amber color.

On first taste this seems to open a raw stripe down the throat. I can't even seem to taste the usual hop overdose, it's just hot with the afterburners blasting down your gullet. I would think there would be some aroma but my nose seems to be anaesthetized. Clearly they went for the maximum capsaicin rather than any flavor subtleties. I always find a gulp of IPA when eating hot food just throws fuel on the fire. So I suppose this is the case study of IBU plus Scoville index equals hellfire.

I"m trying to taste this objectively, but it's really more pain than pleasure. On tap at California Kebab in Pacific Beach.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.43/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Drank a couple of these at a Ballast Point tap take over at Moerlien Tap house.

A- The body of the beer was a coppery orange coloration. Thick yellow tinged biege color head. Nice head retention noted.

S- Pretty much like normal sculpin plenty of mango, grapefruit and pine oil with an addition of peppers. The aroma of the habenero really doesnt give a hint of what is to come.

T- Again pretty similar to normal sculpin mango, grapefruit, pineapple traces a bit of pine and bringing up the rear is a prickly pepper heat. Frankly this is the best use of a chili pepper I have ever exeperienced in a beer. The pepper was masterfully handled in the beers over all character. The heat built up gradually as the pint came closer to completion.

M- The body of the beer is medium and well carbonated. Very nice building heat with creep from the chili peppers.

O- I love sculpin for a reliable hit of hops. Very few beers are even in the same category. The addition of habanero creates a nice peppery drying addition to sculpin. Well done!

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4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$6.50 for 10oz, served in a small chalice
Sampled 04FEB13

[A] Served with a half finger of foamy white head. Retention is moderate with the head slowly becoming a soapy film and bubbly collar. The body is the same gorgeous, hazy, glowing orange hue as standard Sculpin. Lacing in complete sheets.

[S] Light tropical notes plus a substantial citrus aroma. Bitter orange and sweeter tangerine. I don't know when this was kegged - or what the process of adding habanero entailed - but the nose here is much less vibrant than the Sculpin I'm used too. Maybe it's me?

[T] The sweet malt base and bitter hop flavors begin the palate - then gracefully crescendo from a smooth, soothing capsicum, to later becoming somewhat aggressive after the swallow. The balance in heat is absolutely spot on. And always manageable.

[M] Semi full body and creamy smooth carbonation with just a touch of coarseness.

[O] I really like the choice in pepper as the habanero only adds a minuscule persuasion to the palate and nearly nothing to the nose. This potent little pepper brings the heat without upsetting the flavors and aromas of the IPA, which I think is a genius synergy.

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Photo of corby112
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Draft at The Pour House in Westmont, NJ.

Pours a slightly hazy, dark golden orange color with tangerine edges and a 1.5 finger white head that slowly settles into a lasting ring.  Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Complex aroma with an interesting balance of ground pepers, earthy hops, tropical fruit and pale malts.  Somewhat chalky with noticeable peppers but they don't interfere too much with the base beer.  Slightly vegetal with pepper, orange peel, grapefruit and pineapple along with graham cracker and biscuity malt.  

Similar to aroma with a bit more pepper than I expected.  Still it doesn't completely overpower the characteristics of the base beer.  Earthy, piney hops followed by sweet pepper and fiery heat that builds, lingering throughout. Some tropical and citrus fruit sweetness but this is a bit muted because of the peppers.  Subtle pale malt backbone with hints of biscuit, bread and cracker.  Pretty complex with a nice heat/pepper addition but some of the best elements of regular sculpin are overshadowed as a result.

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

Slightly hazy, golden-orange pour, with a small cap of foamy white head; moderate retention and lacing. Hoppy in the nose, citrus and tropical fruits, with a definite vegetal hot pepper presence. It wasn't spicy...yet. The taste started out with a good blast of citrusy hops, and just as the biscuity malts were about to make an entrance, the peppers made their presence known and pretty much conquered all else, leaving the distinctive Sculpin hops in the background, though they were never completely gone. This was a damn spicy beer, and I was definitely loving it. Considering that most chili beers can be an awful mess, this one was definitely very drinkable, about medium in body, with a nice level of carbonation. Still, I wouldn't want to drink too much of this--as opposed to a regular IPA. But it was a nice treat.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a translucent golden orange in color with yellow highlights and a nice finger of bubbly head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: you could definitely sniff out the habanero pepper in the aroma with the signature sculpin notes consisting of piney hops, citrus, a little bready malty sweetness and hints of pineapple fruit.

T: had inviting piney hops, lemon zest, grapefruit bitterness, a good bready malt backbone which was well balanced but with a habanero pepper bang that hits the throat quite well and leaves spicy tingles.

M: the brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, piney, hoppy, bready, citrusy, semi bitter and spicy finish that lingered on the back of the throat.

O: Wow... Sculpin is the bomb but the habanero peppers really do some justice if your into spicy elixirs. Glad I got to try it.

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

Pours a crystal clear, classic golden color with a pure white head. Wet and slick mouthfeel with a burn one would expect from a habanero brew. Plastic and fresh chili pepper flavors get expressed overtly. Fantastically refreshing. Enlivening without being brutal.

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Photo of begforme4484
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Found this on tap at Tyler's Taproom in Apex, NC.

This beer looks just like Sculpin sitting in the glass. It's golden with amber hues. The only real difference is that the head on this beer was very minimal, with practically no lacing on the side of the fluted glass.

Smells like Sculpin but with a hint of pepper oil. I didn't really detect heat in the nose, but I did smell the peppers.

The taste was my favorite part of this concoction. Nice bitter pine hops and grapefruit/mango hops upfront. The flavor from the habaneros add a nice sweet bite the the end of the hop character. Anyone who has ever tasted a fresh habanero or perhaps a hotter pepper like a bhut jolokia, naga viper, etc know that the flavors are very sweet and complex. It definitely added a nice complexity to an already fantastic beer. The 'heat' from the capsaicin kicks in after a few good seconds, just like eating a habanero, it sneaks up on you. I was warned by a few people that it was really hot, but I'm used to spicy foods. To me it was a very pleasant warmth that you felt everywhere. Down the gullet, on your tongue, and even on your lips.

Medium to light bodied and a little under carbonated. I think the oil from the peppers helped tone the carbonation down and gave the beer an overall slick mouthfeel.

I personally loved this beer and will get it without hesitation any time I see it on tap.

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Photo of beer2day
3.04/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Ridgewood Wine and Beer in Raleigh.

Poured into fluted goblet with no head and no lace. Amber gold color.

Nose hints at the pepper, but get some of the standard Sculpin fruit and pine.

And then the fun begins. This is nothing but pepper, from start to finish. Hits hot, finishes hotter. All pepper with very little else. Really no indication that this is a Sculpin. While that's not all bad, it would be much better to tone the peppers down ... a lot.

Feel has some of the oily resin from the hops, but after the first couple of sips all you "feel" is fire. And I like spice in my food.

Good to try, but one and done.

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Photo of mhksuccess
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

it was served on tap in a goblet
appearance look like the sculpin ipa but has an odd smell
not fruity at all
the problem i have with this and i love spicy foods
but this beer has an overwhelming front end of spicy and there is really no back end
so the main taste you get is just a tingle spice in your throat
i think it would be better with less habanero so you can actually taste the beer
but i do give them props for actually experiment
i would much rather just get a regular sculpin as opposed to this

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap for the 2nd Anniversary event at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-white head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of citrus zest, herbal hops, and somewhat mild pepper and habanero aromas. Taste is the same with a burning habanero flavor in the throat on the finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good treatment for Sculpin and very interesting to try but there is no way I could drink a lot of it.

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Photo of orangesol
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Al's of Hampden.

A - Pours clear golden yellow with a nice one finger tall white head leaving light patches of lace down the glass.

S - Smells of citric hops, spicy peppers and some light caramel sweetness. The hops are strong initially but the peppers really take over as it sits in the glass.

T - Starts off with a nice citric hop bite quickly giving way to a light caramel sweetness and plenty of peppery spice. The first half of the glass wasn't too bad but the second half was all habanero spice. The spice sticks around long after the finish, lingering on the pallet for quite awhile.

M - Compared to the regular sculpin this one is all peppers. The spice grabs hold of the pallet and never lets go. A touch of hop bitterness tries to break through but the peppers never really let it come out completely.

O - I have wanted to try this one ever since I heard about it. I love sculpin but the peppers really drown out the best parts of the base beer. Glad I got to try it but I doubt I would get it again.

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Photo of stakem
4.07/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cask delivery, served in a nonic. The brew appears a polished color of orange. Quite attractive looking with a finger of yellowish stained froth. The cap holds fairly well and a light swirl revives it. Patches of lace stick to the glassware with each sip.

I am surprised by how bright and hoppy this brew smells without any indication of peppery quality. This brew smells remarkably similar to normal sculpin with all its hoppy aromatics being the star of the nose. It smells fresh and fruity with minor herbal indications mixed with some floral quality and mild alcohol hint.

The taste starts off just like you would expect from sculpin. Herbal and minor hints of piney bitterness blend into rindy and pulp flavors with a more mild and approachable fruit/floral hop quality. Then all of a sudden, mid-palate there is a flavor burst that is as awkward as a turd in a punch bowl. Holy F'n peppers where did that come from. It is herbal, earthy and very pepery with a hint of veggie aspect. At this point the alcohol is noticed and it draws out a warming sensation from the spicy quality of the peopers.

This is a medium bodied brew with a light level of carbonation. Im not gonna lie, I was really hesitant about this one but in the end, ended up enjoying it with no issue finishing my glass. Its not something I could see myself drinking multpile glasses of or frequesntly but it is well done and worth trying. It was balanced perfectly in my opinion. You knew the peppers were there but it didnt destroy the base beer.

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Photo of akorsak
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On the handpull at Al's. Starter.

A: The cask is remarkably clean, resulting in a clear golden amber elixir, transparent and topped off with a white head.

S: Slight smoke paired with peppers. The aroma is cracked black pepper with just a bit of an indication of heat - the ale saves that for the body. The hoppiness inherent in Sculpin has taken a backseat.

T: Clean up front, the hops are here along with lighter biscuits. The hops quickly lose ground, midsip the heat comes through - a big habanero bite with plenty of residual heat. My first instinct is to take another sip to quell the heat but, of course, that only fueled the fire. The habanero sits like a dusting of cayenne pepper, building in intensity. While never overpowering, the heat is enough to evoke some sweat beads. And swallowing does not good - the heat lingers, gradually dissapating. One needs a good 10 to 15 minutes to completely lose the burn.

M: Sculpin is a bold pairing for the habanero, trying to bring hops to balance out the heat. Sculpin doesn't star here, the peppers blocking it out.

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Photo of bvdubn
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on Firkin at Al’s of Hampden. It pours amber with about a finger worth of head. The aromas are of pepper. I don’t get the citrus and grapefruit from the normal Sculpin. The initial taste is a mellow sweetness but then it finishes with the peppers. As it sits the pepper continues to dominate the taste and the hops and the malts never really come through. I can see why people don’t like this as it is nothing like the traditional Sculpin. I on the other hand lover peppers and I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and I would absolutely drink this again. If you can find a place serving this it is definitely worth a try. I paired it with some pizza and the habaneras in the beer meshed well with the pizza.

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Photo of BoatsSinkBro
3.42/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Public House, SF Beerweek 2012.
-Color akin to regular sculpin, hazy amber.
-Aroma was akin to regular sculpin, citrus notes, but with a bit of pepper heat. You can smell this was different and was gonna be hot.
-Taste was citrus IPA start and a a little bit of piney hop middle/finish, but the habanero kicks in towards finish and stays.
-The heat sticks with back of tongue and throat almost like oil.
-Every consecutive drink was just hotter and stronger than the citrus/hop flavors.

Here's the thing, I'm betting this beer would be a GREAT food beer (I had it by itself), something to take the edge off the heat (food) and with a renewed gulp of well-loved sculpin + heat flavor in between. But as a beer drunk by itself, unless your taste buds is highly developed, it's just gonna burn with every consecutive drink and that'll be most of what you taste for the whole session.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Public House. Pours a clear pale amber with a small tan head that has good retention and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. The aromas is grapefruit, pineapple, tangerine, a hint of caramel malt, some pepper, and a grassy, vegetal note. The initial taste has a bit of sweetness with pineapple, tangerine, and some orange. The finish is pepper, grassy, and vegetal. The hops and pepper dominate any malt. The finish has a decent bitterness and a lot of pepper heat. Very spicy with the heat lingering for quite a bit. Medium body. Medium carbonation. This is a bit of a novelty, but I found it enjoyable. I certainly wouldn't recommend to someone who doesn't enjoy habaneros, but I'm glad to have been able to try it. Not as good as regular Sculpin, but worth trying.

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Photo of largadeer
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at Publick House. Pretty standard clear amber Sculpin appearance. The head is thin and fleeting, settling to a film.

Big tropical fruit hoppiness on the nose along with equally big habanero. Oily, peppery, completely dominated by hops and peppers with a negligible malt character. Strangely, the habanero and hops work pretty well together.

Peppers are actually more dominant on the palate. It's pretty sticky and oily, with plenty of pineapple and grapefruit behind the burning habanero. As the nose implies, malt is completely overshadowed by the hops and peppers. The body feels light like regular Sculpin, but the peppers replace the drying crispness with an oily heat. The heat lingers throughout the finish, but it isn't too excessive or harsh. Not a subtle beer by any means, but really pretty tasty. Recommended if you like the flavor and heat of habaneros.

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Photo of mithrascruor
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at O'Brien's, San Diego.

Pours a clear, light copper color. Has a light, white head with little retention. Mild hoppy aroma, with just a hint of hot pepper. The flavor has some light hops, a bit of malt, and a lot of spicyness! The spicyness builds throughout the taste and lasts into the aftertaste. Smooth and medium-bodied with light carbonation.

A great chile beer! I love how spicy it is, but you lose a lot of the flavor of the Sculpin.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.42/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on tap at khyber in philly

Pours a slightly hazed golden color with some orangey hues. Thin white head rests on top, wispy retention and spotty film on the glass.

Interesting combination of scents - beginning with grapefruit and pineapple and then turning into a peppery spice. Almost a grilled habanero scent with hoppy bitterness.

Nice bitterness up front with citrusy pith. Grapefruit, pineapple, and apricot come through for a brief moment before....Boom! Explosive peppery heat begins to creep in and burn the palate. Pretty wild stuff, as this really sneaks up on you and continues to build on the back end. Finishes with peppery heat and spice.

Medium body, decent carbonation, slightly creamy, hot on the tongue. This is a fun one to try, but not something I'd want more than two ounces of.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.51/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery during San Diego beer week!

A-golden body with white head that sticks around. Just like normal sculpin

S-I find the smell to be more subdued than the normal version, hence the lower grade.

t-nice smooth hoppiness and then you swollow. Wow. Very spicy and smooth almost like a smooth chili pepper with alcohol!

M-medium body and smooth

O-if you love beer and love spicy food, this is a must!

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Photo of Gmann
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear golden color with a big pillowy white head with some large bubble action.

The aroma has a nice hoppy scent, some grapefruit. Not as strong as the normal Sculpin.

Whoa, holy pepper taste. This beer has a very vegetal flavor; tastes like raw peppers. The normally awesome hops are subdued only providing some light grapefruit flavors. The heat in this sucker is significant. This is quite warm from the heat, the habaneros very much dominate the flavor profile.

The body is moderate and the carbonation is flat (to be expected for a cask). The heat from the peppers pretty much wreck the palate.

An interesting beer for sure. Not sure why you would want to ruin a sculpin by dumping tongue numbing habaneros in it. Way too peppery in the taste and in the burn.

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Photo of brentk56
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Arrives with some lazy bubbles topping the clear amber liquid; some clumps stick to the side of the glass

Smell: Citrusy grapefruit with a hot roasted pepper edge that burns the nostrils

Taste: A touch of biscuit, up front, followed by a citrusy/habanero blast that overwhelms the tongue by mid-palate; the heat dominates the finish, though there some grapefruit lingers underneath

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; the burning sensation tingles the lips

Overall: Glad to try this but this is not for everybody; the heat makes it tough to consume in any quantity

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Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Pizza Port san clemente's Hoptoberfest.

Interesting copper color, that has just a hint of haze to it.

Can smell the heat from the pepper on the nose. Citrusy fruity hops that make it a Sculpin are still there.

Hoppy upfront, but then the habanero starts to emerge like a phoenix from the ashes. Nice warming sensation that continues. More tropical citrus flavors, but they really struggle against the habanero. The flavor is actually somewhat balanced.

Mouthfeel is actually very nice. The heat from the pepper builds up, but never reaches critical mass.

This is actually a really well done beer. I've never given chili beers a chance, but I have to say this is very well done. If given the choice, I'd always reach for a regular Sculpin. However, I really have to applaud the brewer's effort on this one. Very good beer.

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Photo of ianroodt
4.7/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an exciting spiced/peppered beer. I have had the pleasure of enjoying this fine brew from both a fresh keg, and an almost empty one. The heat ranges from a 2 out of 5 to a 4 out of 5 depending on how low the keg is. If you like peppered beers then this is a must try, it has all the taste and aroma of Sculpin but includes a progressive heat that begins as you swallow and proceeds to go from warm to fiery hot in a matter of seconds.

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 472 ratings.