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Habanero Sculpin - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Habanero Sculpin
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very good

471 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 471
Reviews: 85
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 15.53%

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: billshmeinke on 02-26-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 471 | Reviews: 85 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of stakem


4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

Serving type: cask

04-13-2012 19:32:58 | More by stakem
Photo of akorsak


3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Serving type: cask

04-13-2012 18:25:52 | More by akorsak
Photo of bvdubn


4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

Serving type: cask

04-13-2012 02:24:54 | More by bvdubn
Photo of BoatsSinkBro

3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-23-2012 11:55:27 | More by BoatsSinkBro
Photo of jethrodium


3.8/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-24-2012 22:13:55 | More by jethrodium
Photo of largadeer


4.31/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-17-2012 06:15:14 | More by largadeer
Photo of mithrascruor


4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2012 03:17:27 | More by mithrascruor
Photo of xnicknj


3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
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.

Serving type: cask

12-02-2011 02:58:15 | More by xnicknj
Photo of brew3crew


4.58/5  rDev +20.5%
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!

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2011 05:56:55 | More by brew3crew
Photo of Gmann

New York

3.33/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

Serving type: cask

11-05-2011 00:29:56 | More by Gmann
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | 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 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

Serving type: cask

11-03-2011 21:43:25 | More by brentk56
Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor


4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-31-2011 19:50:48 | More by AWolfAtTheDoor
Photo of ianroodt


4.72/5  rDev +24.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-25-2011 02:55:04 | More by ianroodt
Photo of NeVeRsPiLLaBeEr

New York

4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was lucky to find this on cask @ ballast point tap takeover @ bierkraft in bk. Initially tastes like sculpin minus the pepper. Just an unbelivable beer, Hoppy smooth hints of citrus. Then slowly peppers take over. I like hot foods so it wasn't overbearing but warms the stomach nicely. We filled a growler on cask you can get through about Half the growler before you need to switch it up. Suggest drinking only a few pints but a different and welcomed variation to an awesome Ipa

Serving type: cask

10-25-2011 00:34:04 | More by NeVeRsPiLLaBeEr
Photo of ithacabaron


4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a squishy gold with apricot highlights. Looks busy, but appealingly so.

Aroma is of mango and papaya; very little, if any pine here. A little overcooked pepper sneaks in there, a little out of place. Was hoping for a "fresher" hit on the nose. Still, it certainly hints at something powerful underneath.

Taste is surprisingly balanced; this isn't just a firebomb. There's a nice backbone of sweet malt underneath, and the juicy flickers of pure sugar-coated mango and passion fruit round out the swallow. That's not to say that there isn't a nice burn, though. I've always liked habanero peppers for their bright, sweet heat -- those excellent qualities are amplified here by a nearly-perfect match in backing beer. A lovely package.

Mouthfeel is foamy but not dense, like swimming in the ocean the day after a storm.

A very, very nice beer; it would be a dream with Thai cuisine. Not for everyday, but it is a tremendous occasional treat. Strongly recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

10-08-2011 02:21:24 | More by ithacabaron
Photo of Phelps


3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed in a shaker pint at Papago’s tenth anniversary party.

Pale gold, perfectly clear. One finger of frothy white head descends a bit, then sticks around as half a finger of fuzz.

Bright orange and lemon peel in the nose, backed by vegetal peppers. Wet grass and some floral notes as well.

Hoo boy! Hey there, spice. The habaneros hit immediately at the back of the throat with capsaicin heat that lingers for a long time between sips. Sinuses now open, I can pick up the other stuff: sweet apricot, mango, orange. Nice sweetness before the spicy finish. One of the smoother chili IPAs I've had.

Medium carbonation with moderate fizz in a medium-light body.

Disclaimer: I don’t think the basic Sculpin is as fantastic a beer as everyone else seems to. That said, the peppers here are beautifully integrate and add an interesting twist to the sweet, subtly tropical brew.

Serving type: on-tap

09-19-2011 00:18:28 | More by Phelps
Photo of ottovon


4.43/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap for Papago's 10th anniversary.

A: orange hue with a white head.

S: lots of citrus hops. I get hints of caramel and straw. there is a touch of spice in the nose.

T: caramel malt and citrus hops. i get quite a bit of citrus hops and that leads into heat. there is a nice spice that burns in the back of the throat and tongue. it is not overpowering, and just the right amount. hints of chili flavor.

M: medium-thin with good amount of carb.

O: this is a great beer, that I could drink daily.

Serving type: on-tap

09-18-2011 21:31:20 | More by ottovon
Photo of MrVonzipper


4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at Stone 15th Anniversary on draft

Pours a fairly mirky golden-amber color with a large bubbly white head. The most noted amount of head of any beer on the day. Good retention and medium lacing.

Sweet citrus, mild grapefruit, light caramel or a touch of fruit. Not intense smell but pleasant. Faint faint chili pepper essencse.

Nice, not overwhelming hop citrus up front with notes of grapefruit transitioning in a slight sweet middle. Notes of faint fruttiness grasping towards peach or mango. Right in the early-middle of the beer is when the peppery flavor kicks is and you get a parabola-like rise and fall of heat.

Light bodied with good carbonation. Crisp. Solid fluctuation of heat with a good but not uncomfortable linger.

Overall a great IPA with a great spicy twist. This beer is definitely not for everyone, but being that I love spicy food, I thought this beer was great.

Serving type: on-tap

08-22-2011 01:07:13 | More by MrVonzipper
Photo of ehammond1

3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Stone 15th Anniversary Celebration
CSU, San Marcos
San Marcos, CA

Orange, glowing, pineapple, translucent color. Inch-high head that sticks around; the head looks thick, tight, and flat, pearl in color.

A somewhat muted version of the typical Sculpin aroma. There's still plenty of tropical fruits, including pineapple, orange, and mango, and there's an underlying, yet not overpowering habanero spice element coming through.

This is one of the most interesting beer-drinking experiences of my life. At initial sip, it tastes like Sculpin, and then an incredible amount of fiery spice attacks the sides of the throat, but only for a few seconds, and then it's gone.

Medium bodied. Ample carbonation, though perhaps a touch more oily and not nearly as drinkable as Sculpin.

I was worried the habanero would ruin an incredible base beer, but they actually pulled it off creating an interesting and unique IPA--initially spicy along with all the wonderful tropical fruit flavors I love in a Sculpin.

Serving type: on-tap

08-21-2011 16:57:26 | More by ehammond1
Photo of Viciousknishs


3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On Cask at The Birch in Norfolk, VA

A- pours a golden amber color with some spotty white bubbles.

S- aroma is classic sculpin aroma of fresh pungent hops with notes of tropical fruit and mango. Mice soft biscuity malt in the middle. Finishes with a soft pepper smell with a bit of heat in the nose as well.

T- short hoppy blast up front with a bit of dry biscuity malt flavor. Some mango and a touch of pineapple from the hops come out. So everything is going pretty normaly and then the habanero brings an intense heat that oblitorates the hops and leaves a smoldering pepper heat and flavor. The flavor is whole fresh pepper skin and the seeds. Very unique and interesting just something that I wouldn't want more than one glass.

MF- the pepper heat seems to thin the body out a little. Slick mouthfeel with low carbonation.

D- the heat cuts down the drinkability way lower than the super drinkable normal version.

Overall a great experience that was super unique and flavorful. On to the ghost chili version!

Serving type: cask

08-05-2011 02:03:36 | More by Viciousknishs
Photo of StJamesGate

New York

3.18/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

On cask at the GBBF, 2011.

Hazy gold with film. Straight gooey jam (Amarillo) nose.
Honey and jelly up front, but the heat is right there and kills all the hops. Smaller sips reveal some tangerine and mango.
Medium, some chew, chili heat lingers long.

Way heavy-handed. Heat kills a nice beer. A bad idea.

Serving type: cask

08-04-2011 12:08:48 | More by StJamesGate
Photo of BARFLYB


2.83/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Out of a firkin at good dog bar.

Sculpin came in the glass looking golden with a slight yellow tint to itself. Just a patch of loose bubbles that turned to nothing, no lace. Smell was very muted. Almost nothing noted here. I only make out a small malt scent. Taste starts out with just a hint of the awesome sculpin with citrus mango and papaya. This last for a second before a rush of habanero smacks the mouth up. The heat lasts for a bit and Im takin back by it. Feel is medium and hot and lasting, not much carb from the firkin. Drinkability is not much, 5 ounces at most. This is a waste of sculpin but I did stomach it better than Cave Creek Chili Beer.

Serving type: cask

07-27-2011 02:17:40 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of Urbancaver


3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Well, what would I expect for a habenero ipa... Its sculpin, super tasty, looks great, smells just like sculpin, tastes just like sculpin... But wait! Hottness! There is a ton of spiciness on the back of my tongue and throat. The burning grows the more I drink. I am glad I only had a small taster as I fear if I had a full pint I would be breathing fire by my last sip! Overall, significantly better than I had expected but still, not particularly drinkable or enjoyable after the first few sips

Serving type: on-tap

07-27-2011 01:46:19 | More by Urbancaver
Photo of oglmcdgl


3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Off a firkin at good dog.

A- comes to me with no head at all and a crystal clear golden orange yellow in color.

S- smell a lot like sculpin but a bit more subdued then you get a bit of the pepper coming off with a touch of spice and fruit that one would expect from them.

T- right out of the gate you are taken aback by the habanero and its means business. While it sure as hell is spicy the hops blend in well and combine to make an interesting flavor profile. I'm not going to lie the spice does over take most of the rest of this beer and you have a hard time getting past it.

M- medium body and no carb. The palate does get a good scorching from the habeneros.

O- well its interesting and odd but it kinda works.

Serving type: cask

07-25-2011 20:41:15 | More by oglmcdgl
Photo of mcallister


4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firkin at the Pony Bar in NYC. Pours murky orange copper with that loosely elastic head of white only firkin carbonation can produce.

Aromas of tropical fruits, mango, papaya and guava with some citrus and pine on the side. Only a hint of pepper in the nose.

The habanero adds a very nice element to the Sculpin. Starts with the tropical fruitiness of sculpin and on the finish a nice fruity, spicy pepper hits the back of your throat and chest. Great balance with the pepper and makes this a very translucent food beer. On. Ask this is nice. Light carbonation and very quaffable.

Serving type: cask

07-20-2011 00:48:47 | More by mcallister
Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 471 ratings.