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.
very good

449 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 449
Hads: 2,266
Avg: 3.76
pDev: 35.11%
Wants: 174
Gots: 623 | 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: 449 | Hads: 2,266
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

Photo of KM_Seahawk
3.87/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This has a nice aroma beautiful floral & citrus hops, slight peppery scent. Then bam! Hot spicy habaneros coats your taste buds and throat and lingers. My chest is on fire, this is hottest chili beer I have. Interesting liked it but can't finish all of it and no use to drink anything else I wont be able to taste it.

 317 characters

Photo of craftbeersweden
3.67/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours clear, yellow with a two finger high, white head.

Nose: Pine, citrus, orange, honey and habanero.
Taste: After all I've heard about this my first thought is: "This feels like a ordinary sculpin" - THEN it kicks in! Wholy #%¤"! This is hot! A lot of habanero warmth. I have a lot of trouble feeling anything else... maby a little bit of sweet caramel malt. But mostly HABANERO!
Body: Medium body (I think). It's hard to tell. My mouth and throat is out of order...

The hot habanero stays for a long time and makes me all warm. I like this!
To bad I can't say that about the taste... I mean, Sculpin is a beatiful IPA and with this i'ts all about habanero! I love habanero but Sculpin even more...

 716 characters

Photo of techn0phobe
3.31/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Sculpin you will (should) know - aggressively hopped single San Diego style ipa. This is one of their twists - habanero chilli in the mix. The effect is to make it more savory, which pairs with the citrus hops pretty well (it's not a huge leap from asian food with sweet/chilli combos to this).

My issue with this one is one of measure and consistency bought a 6 pack and literally every bottle seemed to come out with significantly more/less chill. At least one was so spicy to be barely drinkable. How this is possible I don't know.

Overall- superior to other similar experiments I've tried (Rogue Chipotle being the one I recall) but not one I'll go back to in a hurry.

 674 characters

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

Surprisingly fruity smell. Pleasant IPA-like initial taste, right before the spiciness hits. And once it hits, it stays, with a burning that lingers on the lips and back of the throat. An original and interesting beer (especially for a "mass-produced"/widely-available one). Besides the spiciness, it's got a good medium body and nice mouthfeel. Nice.

 351 characters

Photo of TheRougeBastard
3.23/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Initial taste was pure Sculpin, then immediately followed by a blast of peppery heat that burned all the way down my throat! After the burning faded, you're left with a slight IPAish aftertaste. This went great with a bowl of salsa and chips! If you're looking for heat, this one's for you!

 293 characters

Photo of mbarkerallen
3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

It poured light orange in color with a small white head. Nice smell of citrus and pine giving it a hoppiness of a good IPA. The first taste was of grapefruit with a slight sweet taste of orange and the hotness of habaneros peppers which only lingered to the next sip. The hotness was the dominate taste and for the most part took control. The aftertaste was very dry, would pare good with burgers off the grill. It gained flavor as it warmed at room temperature. This one would warm things up on the "Big Bang" as this brewery is the one they drink.

 549 characters

Photo of Tone
3.42/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, orange color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and great lacing. Smells of strong citrus and piney hops, sweet malt, and a hint of hot pepper. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. The heat from the habanero is quite prevalent. Tastes of sweet malt, hops, and mostly hot peppers. Overall, the pepper heat is very dominant, while the aroma is varied the blend is all pepper and nothing else.

 460 characters

Photo of jcruelty
2.48/5  rDev -34%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

WAY too spicy for me. I honestly found this beer undrinkable. I've had good chili beers-- in particular Prairie Artisan Ales "Bomb!", which is surprisingly delicious-- but this one didn't do it for me. I poured mine out halfway.

 231 characters

Photo of Jfn
4.43/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Visited the Ballast Point brewery in little Italy a few weeks ago. One of my favorites. I love their beer and wow this packs a punch. Pours a thick golden with little white head. I often like pales or IPAs with hot food to balance but not sure if this would fit. I thought it would have a hint of spice but the spice is perfect and very noticeable. This is very unique and look forward to many more.

 399 characters

Photo of Pencible
3/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

A: This poured a hazy gold with thick white head.
S: It smelled like fresh grapefruit and orange zest and hot habanero, with a little resin and honey malt.
T: It tasted like grapefruit and orange zest for a moment, then very hot peppery habanero, with a hint of sweet honey malt. It had a clean and sweet aftertaste with lasting heat.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a brutally hot drink, but otherwise a great IPA. The scent and taste were dominated by habanero. The body was a little weak, and the finish was very spicy, so it was not easy to drink. Interesting to try a few sips, but I wish they dialed back the spice, a lot.

 665 characters

Photo of gopens44
2.55/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Looks like a Sculpin, sure enough. Maybe the lacing is a touch more slick than our more customary version, or perhaps I'm just being nitpicky?

Nothing overwhelming in the nose, yet it makes me feel like sneezing? I still get the same fairly tropical hop presence along with a malt presence but it leads away with that sneeze inducing peppery finish.

There's the hop, but wait - it faded to crackery something an instant before the tongue is thoroughly awash in hotness. Yep, it's spicy. Another swig clarifies the cracker thing a bit more as it actually is more like stale bread laced within a barely noticeable hop thing, but the pepper simply overwhelms. No doubt.

Conclusion? This is every bit as novelty as Ghost Face Killah. Look, I LOVE spicy food. I LOVE IPAs, and especially appreciate Sculpin, but the addition of the spice does something, I'm guessing, on the molecular level that fundamentally changes the characteristics of this beer that renders the IPA qualities useless. Judging from the reviews, this is also beginning to look like a fairly polarizing beer. I do not doubt that there are plenty of folks out there that enjoy this extreme experience, just really not what I would ever consider a drinkable, enjoyable beer.

 1,246 characters

Photo of Das_Reh
4.39/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The aroma and flavor of habanero chilis plays no second roll in this IPA. The taste is like biting into a fresh, hot chili. Don't underestimate the burn in this beer as it creeps up on you sip after sip. If you love spicy food, you'll love this beer!

 253 characters

Photo of Ljoreilly
4.57/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

If you like the taste, smell, and experience of Habanero peppers you will appreciate this beer. The taste is so close to the real thing it is amazing. The smell only gives you a hint of what's to come and the closer you get to the bottom of the glass the more flavorful it becomes. Just plain awesome!

 301 characters

Photo of The_Kings_Thirst
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Golden orange with nice off white head.
S: Grapefruit and floral with some earthiness and pepper (stronger from bottle)
T: For me the spiciness overwhelms any other flavors. Beer fades, but heat remains. Maybe a tiny bit of nuttiness at the very front.
F: Medium

O: Interesting, but my least favorite Sculpin variety of the ones I've tried so far. Wouldn't want to drink more than one at a time and If I had again, I would likely try to pair with some food.

 462 characters

Photo of JayQue
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A hard pour will give you an fairly impressive size head with slightly better than average retention. Some lacing on the glass. A nice, mostly clear gold color. Aroma is mild, some citrus hops with just a hint of pepper in the background. Taste is something else again. A short experience with bitter, citrusy Sculpin, followed by a quick blast of hot pepper that obliterates the beer flavor. Unlike that abomination from Twisted Pine (Ghost face Killah), your taste buds and mouth recover quickly, and with subsequent slow sips, the pepper is more manageable, pretty much under control by the last quarter of the beer. Mouthfeel is dominated by the effects of the pepper, this is definitely a slow sipper. The beer is rich enough and crisp when the featured element is not blasting you away. On the whole, not bad if you like this sort of thing. Some chile beers feature crap beer underneath the pepper flavor, others are an exercise in pain.. This allows you to experience thepepper, but still have a decent beer as the underpinnings.

 1,038 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.26/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

In a pint glass the beer was a slightly hazy brass color. There was a small, off-white head that left a bit of lace.

Aroma of peppers and citrus. Peppers really got in my nose.

Taste more of the same. Very strong pepper presence, some grapefruit in the background.

This was about the hottest beer I've tasted. Now, I love heat, so I thought the mouthfeel was just about perfect. Felt the burn, but wasn't taken prisoner by it.

 429 characters

Photo of ScaryEd
2.26/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

Pours a nice golden color with a bit of haziness and a soapy white head that leaves a minimal amount of lacing around the top of the glass.

The smell is...interesting. Hoppy with notes of grapefruit and orange, followed by a good amount of hot pepper. Not unpleasant, but there's something off about it.

The taste. Just...no. I really, really don't get spicy beer. Now, this beer is not a habanero bomb akin to something like Stone's aptly named "Punishment", but the spiciness is there and it does not go away. I love spicy food. But for some reason, spiciness and beer just don't mix for me. There's still plenty of IPA in this beer, with notes of grass, grapefruit, and pineapple, but it is sent to the back of the line by the spiciness of the habanero.

The feel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. My mouth is still on fire.

Overall, I wanted to try this because I love regular Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin so I figured I'd give this a fair shot. This beer just is not for me. It's too spicy, and the beautiful, floral hoppy notes are simply overpowered by the spiciness. I think I'm going to stay away from spicy beer from now on.

 1,151 characters

Photo of Evilyak
4.41/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this beer pours a color not that dissimilar to its signature flavor profile. it's orange with a slight head and not a lot of lacing. Pretty beer.

you easily get the citrusy fruit from the ipa, but you can smell the heat on this one. there's some obvious pepper in there.

the flavor is habanero. it dominates everything, but like really great thai food, you don't lose the flavors underneath. this isn't just hot; this is a tasty beer with ripe, spicy pepper. heat lingers a bit, but not annoyingly so.

i wouldn't pound a bunch of these in a row, but paired with an interesting meal or on a hot summer day, i would go back for seconds.

 637 characters

Photo of rjd722
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my spiegelau IPA glass producing a slightly orange-amber color with a pretty thick three-finger foam, dissipated fairly quick and leaves some lacing throughout. Aroma is mostly fresh habanero, backed by some citrus and pine (same base but less pronounced than the original sculpin). Habanero pepper spice hits right away and almost entirely masks the rest of the flavors normally associated with sculpin. Hints of citrus and pine come through a little, but the habanero is definitely featured. Mouthfeel is slight bitterness, dominated by heat similar to what you'd experience having a little too much hot sauce. I've had pepper beers before where the spice is only complimentary, but not here...heat lovers will enjoy!

 731 characters

Photo of CJCouillard
4.63/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Dark golden in color with a warm orange tint.
Smell: Smells like a typical IPA with a very subtle hint of pepper
Taste: A mild to moderate hoppy taste is noticed initially , followed by a spicy peppery bite.

Warning! If you do not like spicy things, this beer is not for you. The bite from the habanero is very hot.

 324 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
2.92/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Fresh bottle served cold in a pint glass.

Violence in a bottle. This beer started out with no chili in the nose at all with maybe some pepper skin. The taste was IPA for 1 second then a wave of fire and lava drowning out every other sensation. For me, it was far too hot and not worth drinking. I shared a bottle between 3 people and that was more than enough. In truth, I didn't want to finish my glass but I did.

 416 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Sculpin that we've known and loved takes a baptism in the capsaicin pool for a spicy and sinister session that begs for the high quaffing rates of the bright IPA but with a kick that suggests otherwise.

Bright and coppery, its brilliant glow pushes a creamy, cottony swath to the rim- not all in all separate from the original. But Its hop-driven scent carries a tinge of evaporated heat that hides neatly behind the citrus, tropical and exotic herbal scent. Caramel and honey give an even coat to the tongue and seduce the tastebuds with its creamy softness before the heat begins to build.

Shortly into the middle portion of taste, the beer's floral spiciness peaks through the grapefruit, tangerine, mango, pineapple and passionfruit and introduces a slow simmering heat. As the taste unfolds, the hops turn resinous and decidedly bitter while the growing warmth takes the senses by surprise.

Creamy, dry and unquestionably warm, the medium-light ale releases its sweetness and favors hops and peppers there on out. Its spicy capsaicin exacerbates the hops and creates a sharper, spicier hop bite than the hops can merely achieve on their own. Piney, grassy and pithy flavors accompany the heat into a long simmering fruity aftertaste.

 1,245 characters

Photo of RyanK252
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours slightly hazy golden amber with a frothy off white head that settles to a nice layer and laces well.

S: Citrus, orange, lemon lime, tropical fruit, mango and pineapple, some caramel malt sweetness, and of course plenty of habanero, though not too much heat is coming through.

T: Citrus, tangerine, lemon lime, tropical fruit, pineapple and mango, some caramel malt sweetness, then a wall of habanero heat that leaves some lingering flames. I love that the base beer gets a chance to come out, even for a short time before the flame thrower takes over.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, plenty of warmth and then some from the habanero which is to be expected.

O: Ballast Point didn't mess around here. If you can handle the heat it's a very cool one to try.

 831 characters

Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 449 ratings.