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Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
488 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: 488 | Ratings: 2,429
Photo of RyanLaw
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had a half pint of this beer at the brewery.

A - It Looks just like regular Sculpin, amber color with two finger white head

S - Sweet and spicy and you can smell the peppers right away

T - Goes down smooth but with a big kick at the end. The heat built with each sip and was a little overpowering by the time I was finished.

M - Medium body and carbonation

O - An okay beer but a little too hot for my taste. Any more than a half pint would have probably been too much for me. I'll take the original version anyday but was glad to try a variation.

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Photo of TimReph
4.37/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The thing about this beer is that you need to have a full pint for you to fully appreciate it. My first taste of Habanero, I did not like it. Actually I thought it was too hot. But overtime, I found myself coming back for more and more, and now I am at a point where i prefer Habanero over the regular Sculpin. Give it a pint...grab some chips and salsa, and enjoy the ride. Really hope they bottle this stuff...because it is getting quite a following in San Diego.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed at the FW Invitational 2013. On such a hot day, one of the hottest beers I've ever had. . . Pours nice and yellow, looking just like regular Sculpin with a slightly lighter, thinner white head to it.

Aroma is both parts spicy habanero and the plentitude of Sculpin hops. Pretty nice, its my favorite thing about this beer.

The heat is amped up spice wise. Plenty of tongue beating pepper notes satiate the mouthfeel, the taste is still plenty hoppy and Sculpin like, with its tropical fruit forward hop flavors. The body is light, feels even lighter with the habanero kick if anything, but the base of beer is awash.

Overall, this variation is not better than original Sculpin, but it is far better than most pepper beers. Very comparable to Lagunitas Habanero IPA. Its one of those that is so hot that I can't imagine drinking more than a pint. But its not so hot that its all there is to the beer.

Would recommend.

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Photo of ckollias
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this beer on tap at LURES in Maryland

A: Pours a copper hue with a white head that quickly dissipates in to a wispy lace.

S: Sweet spicy aroma.

T: Sweet and spicy flavor like the aroma with a very hot ending.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation

O: Decent spicy brew – not my favorite thing to mix beer and hot peppers but it is worthy of a try.

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Photo of dar482
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The color is clear golden orange color with a foamy IPA head. The red from the habanero really gives this a beautiful color.

The aroma has some citrus, big pineapple, IPA dank hops, but lots of spiciness.

The taste has a citrus pop and light malt, but then a huge round spiciness. Sometimes with spiciness, it hits the tongue and soaks in, this is different. It rolls all over your mouth with the first sip and then it hits the back of the throat. It's very powerful. I wish it had more hoppiness and bitterness to counteract the spiciness.

This is a weird beer. I wish the spiciness was a bit different and toned down. I'm re-reviewing this having had it again and being more into "interesting" beers. However, this is not a complete success for me. The IPA is hidden too much and the spiciness overpowers. Still very worth trying.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.64/5  rDev +23.7%

Abbreviated review. Tasted at Savor 2013. Bright hops, a clean crisp center, and a lightly fruity body pave the way for a white-hot habanero haymaker to the face. Hands down the best chili beer we’ve ever had

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from tap into pint at yardhouse in palm beach gardens Florida. Nice creamy head over a golden color. Aroma is citrus hop with a habanero burst. Same with the flavor...big citrus notes like the standard sculpin but a huge habanero spice finish. Its spicy and hot...throat closing and tingly. Really a great chile beer great spice that complements the citrusy ipa. Deff worth a try.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on-draught into a New Belgium stem-goblet at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger head of beige colour and nice frothy consistency. Good thickness, great cream, and excellent retention (~7 minutes). Body colour is a vibrant transparent translucent copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Head is soft, fluffy, and luscious. Very appealing for the style.

Sm: Floral hop aroma is prominently featured. Biscuit malt. Pale malts. Some grapefruit citrus ester bite. A bit nectary. A mild strength aroma. Quite appealing. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

T: Prominent floral hops up front with some very balanced citrusy zest hop notes, including grapefruit. It's complemented nicely by a pale malt body which is pleasant and refreshing.

The habanero pepper hits on the climax - seemingly timid at first but burning strong on the aftertaste. The heat waits; most chili beers don't have that effect and tend to be immediately spicy.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. Lovely execution with a balance of refreshing hoppy notes up front and intriguing but not scorching heat on the back end. The heat - in terms of intensity and duration - is perfect to my tastes. It's exactly what I want from a chili beer. Fantastic execution. Excellent build for the concept and style. The heat disguises the light bitterness found in regular Sculpin. Very flavorful.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Refreshing. Lightly oily. Excellent carbonation. Suits the flavour profile very well. Not biting or rough. It could be a bit softer. Good thickness. Great presence on the palate. Great body.

Dr: Definitely the best chili beer I've had; the habanero isn't overpowering but rather feels well incorporated into the careful balance. Hides its ABV well. I'd get it again, and I could actually have more than one in a night - you can't say that about most chili beers. A great marriage of habanero with hops. Stands out as special. I'd recommend it to friends. Very drinkable, but pricey at $10.00 a pint. Would pair great with pizza.

Low B+

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Photo of metter98
3.77/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

On-tap at Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC

A: The beer is clear amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a patch of bubbles in the center and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: LIght aromas of grapefruit hops and habanero chillies are present in the nose.
T: As you swirl the beer around in your mouth, the habanero becomes hotter and hotter. The heat particularly stands out in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The habaneros make your mouth tingle in the aftertaste.
O: This is an interesting beer, but the habaneros completely turn an excellent beer into a mediocre one. The spicy heat makes it very difficult to drink and I'm glad that I had a small serving size.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Hunahpu's Day. The nose is mostly straight sculpin, it has the hop explosion with a faint spice to it. Taste is much more spicy, extremely peppery and hot in the finish with the juicy hops up front. Spice is so strong and lingers. Well carbonated smooth light body.

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

Had on-tap at Capitol Beer and Taproom in Sacramento, CA

Appearance - A clear, pure golden color, served to me in a 12oz nonic style glass with a white, half finger of head. Fair retention, leaving a thin film of microbubbles on the surface. Nice lacing around the glass with good stick.

Smell - Pineapple, pine, citrus and spice from the habanero.

Taste - Follows the nose; sweet, hoppy fruitiness strikes first in the form of pineapple, hints of mango, citrus and pine before giving way to the strong, but manageable habanero burn. Really natural, authentic pepper flavor, however, skips the unsufferable burning sensation of the habanero and goes straight to the afterburn.

Mouthfeel - Light in body with moderate carbonation. Much like it's predecessor, the Habanero Sculpin goes down so impossibly smooth and light that it's near detrimental; I wanna know I'm drinking a beer.

Overall - Nice variation on an already great beer, though truth be told I much prefer the standard version. They nail the habanero flavor, for sure, without the insane scoville level that normally accompanies it. Good, but for the price, this is probably the first and last time I'll have it.

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Photo of DudMan
4.38/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a fresh 12 oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. It looks like a sculpin, smells like a habanero sculpin and tastes like one too. It's hot. It's good. Probably can't have more than one in a sitting. But it delivers! Great heat! 2/18/15

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Owl House in Rochester, NY.

Pours a clear orange color, with a one inch head, and strings of lacing across the glass.

Smells include citrus, pine, and some mild pepper aromas.

The pepper is much stronger in the taste- the regular ol' Sculpin goodness is present up front- grapefruit and resinous pine, a little bit bitter, however the back end is all diabolically spicy habanero. Serious pepper burn every sip makes this really not all that drinkable. Sipping is necessary. As the beer warms, the pepper burn becomes more pronounced.

Medium bodied, low carbonation, crisp mouthfeel. Tingly feeling on the lips the whole session.

An interesting one-off, they definitely captured the habanero flavor, but it's just way too much for me.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.61/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Hunahpu Day pour #9. Pours golden copper with a small white head. Smell is mango grapefruit, very similar to regular Sculpin. Havanero spice up front and on the finish. Hides some of the great flavor of the base beer though still has some fruit citrus bitter underneath. I just don't get the pepper beers. This is probably the best of them in the pepper beer style, but why ruin such a great beer? Meh.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Hunahpu Day. Served in a taster.

Appearance - Golden amber with a nice head. Lasts as long as my taster does. Sticky lacing. Looks like Sculpin.

Smell - Hoppy and peppery. Grapefruit and pine. Lots of pepper. Whoa.

Taste - Immediately hoppy. Citrus and grapefruit. Then it's all habanero. Really tastes like the pepper, too. Nice pepper character, if you're into that. I didn't love this when I started drinking this, but it really grew on me.

Mouthfeel - Spice builds very quickly, but drops off quickly too. That's its saving grace. Well carbonated and medium light body.

Overall - Sculpin is great. This isn't quite as good, but a very impressive pepper character. I ended up enjoying this more than I thought I would.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Was a little in the fence about trying this one but I was able to purchase a 5oz pour of it and figured that should be plenty. The beer is a nice looking hazy orange color with a thin white head on top. The retention and lacing were both pretty good here. It's a nice looking beer for sure. The smell of the beer is really nice too, the mango-like hops pop out of the subtle pepper aromas this beer has, reminds me of the Habanero Mango wing sause at Buffalo Wild Wings. The taste has a good complexity to it. The initial flavor is the hoppy IPA, that changes into the spicy pepper that is dominant but not overwhelming. The finish left me wanting another sip. The mouthfeel was smooth, nicely carbonated and surprisingly drinkable. Overall it's a hot beer for sure, but there was some really nice aspects of it that I found really interesting. Worth trying if you can tolorate heat.

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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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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 488 ratings.