Habanero Sculpin - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Habanero SculpinHabanero Sculpin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

340 Reviews
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Reviews: 340
Hads: 1,835
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 16.4%
Wants: 158
Gots: 401 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

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
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Reviews: 340 | Hads: 1,835
Photo of Abe_Froman
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This is certainly an interesting beer, and I am glad I tried it. I have enjoyed some chili beers in the past but the ones I have had were balanced by chocolate.

The sweet counter is something I find missing here. It's all ipa up front then pure pepper flavor/heat. The heat isn't overwhelming, but I feel I would get a similar experience by sipping a sculpin then biting a pepper. It just not well integrated. All in all a fun experience, and if you love hot peppers this is for you. (491 characters)

Photo of mrkun
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber in color with minimal head and lacing.

S: Typical smell of hops and citrus as expected with no noticeable spice.

T: The initial taste is typical of Sculpin and until you start to swallow and then BAM! You get slapped across the face with capsaicin and just as you think it's about to over it returns and backhands you.

M: Medium carbonation with some stickiness.

O: This is initially interesting but I don't think I could drink more than a 4 oz taster of this stuff and I like spicy food. (501 characters)

Photo of Roxie_B
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Serving Type: Bottle
Appearance: Amber; transparent; couple of fingers of white head that falls to legs collar and lacing.
Smell: Apricots and oranges with a hint of spice
Taste: Begins with juicy citrus and sweet peach jam taste that quickly swerves to a brutal burn of surprising intensity. If you like capsaicin you will enjoy this one!
Mouthfeel: Light bodied with some sparkly crisp carbonation. (401 characters)

Photo of nkelley77
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is amazing in the sense of how you can taste the pepper but the heat makes it difficult to drink the whole bottle. I was happy to give this a try and would love to cook with this beer. (194 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
3.54/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to KevSal for throwing this guy in as an extra. I'm a huge fan of Sculpin and things infused with habanero. I'm a little skeptical about how this IPA will pair with fire. Lets see...

Pours golden and clear with thin layer of persistent white head. Nose features citrusy notes up front along with some mango flesh and tropical notes. The hops certainly seem to be tamed down by the presence of the peppers. There are slight hints at pepper in the nose, but its not overly obvious. The has a split second of the familiar and delicious sculpin IPA but then quickly transforms into straight fire. As it passes the palate, the habanero begins to singe everything in its path including the back of the throat. Mouthfeel is moderate with medium carbonation. Overall, the pepper is just too heavy handed here. The mangoey hops paired with habanero is a great idea in concept, but the juiciness of the hops unfortunately gets buried. (932 characters)

Photo of dd43
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

The habanero addition does not improve sculpin. This beer is far less aromatic than the base beer. That coupled with the flavor change made both myself and another person trying the beer remark that we'd have no idea this was sculpin in origin if we weren't told that ahead of time.

Flavor is not bad but honestly I feel like the sculpin branding was a disservice to ballast point and the excellent base beer. It should stand on its own. The heat hits you initially in a profound way but it is not overpowering, especially because it dissipates more quickly than one would assume when it first kicks in. This is a one and done beer, meaning I can't imagine having more than one pour of it in a session. (704 characters)

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Type: Draft
Glass: Pint glass
From: Clem’s Tap House in Kensington (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $5 (for Happy Hour)
Purchased: July 24, 2014
Consumed: July 24, 2014
Misc.: N/A

Poured a honey, orange, murky color with two fingers of frothy white head when I got it. Good layered foamy lacing along the sides. Good retention on the top all the way down.

Wow on the smell! Got citrus hops, pine and floral hops, then bam! Here come the spices. Got jalapeno, habanero and red peppery spices. Already feel it on my nose and mouth somehow. Late orange rind notes. That’s pretty much it because the hot spices dominate.

Taste was pretty much the same as the smell. Got those citrus and floral hops, but then the jalapeno and habanero spices come flying in. Also spicy red pepper notes dominating heat on the hops. Really wanted more hops here. Not balanced at all.

Medium body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Long, spicy finish.

A decent beer for what it is, but just too spicy and not enough hops. (1,002 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Taster from the Grille Next Door.
Deep golden color with a huge sticky white head. Big capsaicin mixed with earthy pine on the nose. The heat lingers coating the throat all the way down. Good in a small dose, glad I got a tiny glass. (234 characters)

Photo of Nctide
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I was happy to finally try this one. I was surprised to not get any spice on the nose, but it was definitely there in the taste. This beer is very well constructed. Unlike some other pepper beers I have tried, the spice doesn't build on successive sips. It numbs the tongue a bit but isn't overwhelming. That said, none of the great qualities of the base Sculpin come through. It's a good pepper beer if that's what you are looking for. (442 characters)

Photo of Czarkazm
3.59/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Color is what you would expect from a sculpin', clear and amber. Nose is inviting, nice pine and citrus hidden underneath a sweet pepper skin with no heat evident. One taste though and there's no going back. This beer is no joke. The heat lingers a long time between sips to dance the tango on your taste buds. I kind of liked this beer more as I drank it. You kind of get numb to the habanero kick to enjoy what the base beer has to offer. Bottle states that heat varies but if Ballast Point cut back on their use of habanero in this beer, it'd be money. (564 characters)

Photo of angrybabboon
3.59/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cheers to Goblinmunkey for the bottle

Review copied from notes dated 3/12/15

A: Clear, copper orange – pours with a small to medium, white head, less robust than other iterations of Sculpin – fades to a slight crap, with a moderate collar, leaves a few splotches of lacing

S: Ripe, fresh habaneros – if you have wondered what it is like to slice into a habanero and sniff the flesh, this is it – fleshy, oily, vegetal habanero – the Sculpin backbone is not completely overpowered – nice citrus aromas, with grapefruit, orange, and some tropical notes – habaneros always smell lightly tropical to me (as I may be insane), and I think this adds to the aroma – spicy and peppery, if I have failed to mention that

T: I love Sculpin, and I love habanero, but I do not love this – I do respect it though, as it is a wonderful union of spicy and hoppy flavors – ripe habanero peppers – fleshy and oily, with a moderate level of heat – decidedly hot, but not burning (this is not making my eyes water or eliciting hiccups) – beyond the pepper, the hops are still here – grapefruit and orange flesh, with some tropical flavors, hints of pineapple and mango – some light malt sweetness – I love the flavors, but my brain screams “no” every time I sip, as drinking habanero just feels wrong

M: Medium body, smooth, oily, adequate carbonation

O: I want to love this beer, but love is hard sometimes

This is a masterful pairing of habanero spice with the potent, juicy hops of Sculpin. But thanks to the dignity-destroying Stone Punishment and a recent experience with Ghost Face Killah, I think I am done with in chile beers in general. I am going to attempt to not let this new bias trash this score. (1,732 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2


On tap at Old Grove.

A: Light Straw gold with a frothy white head. Nice color. Apposed next to regular Sculpin it's notably lighter in color. That's odd.

S: Actually has more hop character than recent batches of Sculpin. Nice mango notes meld with grapefruit and orange. The spicy habanero is quite nice in the aroma: powerful and unique.

T: Very spicy up front and it stays strong throughout. Pretty nice flavor from the pepper which goes well with the grapefruit, mango, and orange. Bitterness is subjugated by the heat. Burns the throat and the back of the palate at the end.

M: Lower medium in body with upper moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is sticky and dry.

Overall: Good appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel, but the heat from the pepper affects the overall. I don't want more than 2 ounces. Definitely worth trying, but not something to drink in quantity. (883 characters)

Photo of RyBrew54
3.61/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

"Tastes like burning" -Ralph Wiggum

Surprisingly not much to the nose. Take regular Sculpin and crank up the heat with one of the hottest peppers around. Not bad if you pair it with fajitas or some awesome spicy food. (218 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
3.61/5  rDev -4.5%
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. (402 characters)

Photo of poppollutesminds
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Way too much heat on this to enjoy a full 12 ounces. The great does grow on you after the first sip but definitely overwhelms the awesome sculpin base. (151 characters)

Photo of kevdemers
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Delivers what it says, with the habaneros first affecting mouthfeel in the aftertaste then really making their presence felt down the hatch! That said, this seems to be zero sum where the heat takes away a little of the hoppy flavors rather than add to the base beer. I'll stick to the straight ahead Sculpin for the time being. (330 characters)

Photo of Beerds
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Strongly enjoy beer and heat so gave this a shot. It's a good beer but prefer the regular sculpin, haven't tried grapefruit yet. Beer is smooth until the finish and the habanero grabs a hold of you throat. Worth trying for sure. (230 characters)

Photo of hotpauko
3.64/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not sure where to go with this. If you are not a fan of IPAs or hot peppers, do not try this beer. I am a hophead and a huge HOT pepper fan... I know well the Puckerbutt Pepper Company a few miles down from me (the hottest pepper in the world), but this was too hot for a beer. The beer was tolerable mainly because Sculpin is such a good IPA. If combined with any other beers of average quality, this would have been a mess. It smells peppery and hits the mouth very hot. It will subside a little to try and get the Sculpin flavor. But really just too much. I'd like to see the next batch toned down. If not I won't buy it again. (630 characters)

Photo of jzeilinger
3.64/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a dark copper gold color with a white fluffy head and n ice retention.

S - Bright citrus: Mango, oranges, pineapple with some of those spicy peppers coming through.

T - The fruity citrus keeps trying to fight its way to the top but keeps getting beat down with big waves of Habanero, the two keep swirling and duking it out to the firey end. Lots of lingering spicy heat. I like heat but the peppers are too overpowering and is a "big glass of fire".

M - Heavy medium body, lingering hot finish that leaves your mouth salivating from the peppers

O - Too hot. (574 characters)

Photo of jsurfs82
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Love the original and Grapefruit Sculpin. This however was a bit of a surprise. Actually alot more pepper flavor than I expected which made it interesting. This was the most pepper forward beer I've had since Stone's Crime. This isn't a terrible beer but not all that great either. Kind of a one off conversational beer really. I'd never buy a 6 pack of this. (359 characters)

Photo of BrewLancer40k
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

The appearance was quite pleasant with a good solid head to top it all off. Smell seemed to give a pleasant clover smell.

The taste starts off with a familiar sculpin ballast point IPA taste but quickly a strong burn appears as one is going through the beer. Initially it doesn't overshadow the beer but toward the end of the glass it starts to overbear a little too much. This likewise starts to make the mouthfeel suffer as one's throat is really starting to feel the kick of the habanero pepper added. Overall I'd give this a 3.5. It's a fun idea but unfortunately very niche. I cannot readily recommend this as a purchase but rather a "buy a pack for a larger group and pass bottles around so everyone can see what its like." (730 characters)

Photo of Taybeh
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

from a single (6 weeks old)
a: color is a beautiful deep orange red.
s: nose is bready and caramel malty sweetness, then some faint bits of Sculpin's normal hop profile, then a tinge of the peppery heat to come
t: I'm not sure how well this builds off and complements the base beer...the habenero tends to dominate the last 1/3 of the mouthful to the point that it drowns what came before and indeed everything else out. The heat builds and while it isn't overwhelming on its own, it tends to dominate all other flavor notes instead of complementing them.

I like habeneros and heat generally, but this is more of a curiosity. I'd try it again if I was pairing it with the right kind of food...on its own, the first 3-4 oz, I enjoyed, and the rest were an interesting chore. A little hard to know how to rate this; doesn't seem right to rate it against normal IPAs.... (873 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12o bottle poured into a tulip. 329 14 A3 19:35 is the bottle code.

Pours clear, amber, with very little head and not much carbonation. I don't remember Sculpin being this still. Smell is habanero pepper! Exactly what I hoped for in that regard, but a little lacking in the Sculpin aroma that I know and love. There is some slight tropical hoppiness.

Taste is habanero again -- surprisingly spicy, but not overwhelming (for me, but I have a high tolerance for spiciness). Slight honey sweetness, slight fruity flavor. Overall, tasty but a little muted.

Mouthfeel is dense, a tiny bit sticky. Overall, it's pretty good (if you like habaneros). (656 characters)

Photo of Roguer
3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Great looking orange/amber clear brew. Notes of hops and chile.

Almost no aroma; slight biscuit, citrus, and pepper heat.

Flavor is almost completely dominated by the habanero. Extremely, extremely spicy; the spiciest beer I've ever had, by a fair margin. Behind the pepper heat is a nice citrus hop profile, but the lovely and juicy flavors from regular Sculpin just cannot get to the forefront and shine.

This is a tough beer to drink, but in no way is it unenjoyable. I highly recommend splitting the bottle; finishing an entire bottle would be too much for me. Pepper heat is really dominating, vice complementary, but it's still a good beer.

Not recommended for people who don't like spicy food. (705 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sculpin with Habanero Peppers on cask at Pony Bar, Hell's Kitchen, NYC.

Appearance: Two fingers of super frothy white head, soapy bubbles and sparkles, great retention. Head lingers forever! No lacing and almost no carbonation, as it befits a cask serving.

Smell: Reminds of the regular Sculpin, with sweetness and citrus, some tropical aromas. Sugar, pineapple syrup, a slight pepper punch at the end. Deceptive! Nothing on the nose prepares you for the intense chili attack that comes through the taste.

Taste: Yes, folks, this is pure habanero! And it's all on the back of the throat. It just burns and stays there, itching. Quite a unique brew, stronger than any chili beer I have ever had. Rather one-dimensional, this is all pepper and nothing but pepper, plus a tad of bitter hops and grass tossed around to keep some resemblance of an IPA.

Mouthfeel: Hard to measure, as this is all pepper burn! Low carbonation, medium to ful body, full habanero. Not balanced, but quite an experiment.

Overall: I enjoy daring brews, so I applaud this. That said, Sculpin Habanero is not something I will seek or have again. Not very drinkable or pleasant. It burns! (1,167 characters)

Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 340 ratings.