Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
97
world-class
2,416 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA
BEER INFO

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:
Originally named Northstar IPA. Debuted in 2005.

Added by brentk56 on 04-02-2006

BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,416
Ratings:
13,321
Avg:
4.38
pDev:
9.82%
 
 
Wants:
1,441
Gots:
5,225
For Trade:
48
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 2,416 | Ratings: 13,321
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Re-reviewing after having a pretty different experience from the first time I tried this. My old review (and scores) are listed below for science. The difference in experience can be chalked up to one of two things: vessel and/or freshness. The first review was a 22 oz bomber that was likely about two months old. This time around, I had it out of the can marked with a Julian canning date that translates to 3/6/2014, so less than a month old. Oh, I also poured it into a Speigelau IPA glass this time, so I suppose that could have had an effect as well.

Appearance - The color and translucency remains about the same--apricot and orange peel colored with lemon flesh highlights. However, this time around there is a bit less haze going on. I can't help but wonder if that's the result of being a month fresher or the vessel. The head is different as well, this time a towering three finger head with moderate retention that leaves pocking as it dissipates and sticky lacing that leaves moderate webbing around the sides of the glass.

Smell - The same tropical fruits are present as the last time around: pineapple and mango, as well as the balancing presence of cracker-like pale malt, but this time around, the citrus component--with both grapefruit pith and lemon zest--is much more forward, giving the aroma a pop that I don't remember it having before. It practically climbs out of the glass towards my nose. Definitely have to increase the score for aroma.

Taste - I will say this--while the smell seemed to have suffered with time, the taste of this IPA held up quite well. That part seems to degrade much more gracefully than the aroma. Big notes of ripe mango and grapefruit flesh as well as some more herbal grassiness to provide some depth alongside the tropical and citric fruit notes. As before, the grain element is pretty well hidden until it warms up a little bit, at which point there is a subtle bready component that provides a bit of backbone to the otherwise pungent fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - This may be a function of the more engulfing aroma, but it feels like it drinks a bit juicier than I remember. Carbonation also seems a bit more active, which is perhaps not a surprise, given that cans are known to have less CO2 seepage than bottles, but it's possible that's in my head. Not sure if it's actually a detectable difference.

Overall, an IPA that benefits greatly with freshness. Especially in the smell. In spite of previously saying I wouldn't likely get this beer again, when I came across it in cans, my curiosity got the better of me, and I was rewarded with a very fresh sixer for my troubles. Given the huge improvement in my experience, I had no choice but to update my review. I look forward to finishing the other cans.

===

Old review:

Enjoyed on 9/13/2013 out of a brown 22 oz bomber marked clearly with an "best by" date of 11/9/2013. I remember reading somewhere that Ballast Point uses a 120-day lead time on their freshness dating, so best guess, this was bottled in mid-July. Poured into a 16 oz nonic style tumbler.

Appearance (4.25) - A gorgeous and prototypical IPA, with a hazy but translucent body the color of apricot and orange peel, with highlights the color of lemon flesh. The light behind it really makes for a refreshing-looking beer. The body is topped by a one-finger head with lots of medium-sized suds that slowly burst, leaving pocking. Retention is low-to-moderate, and the lacing is silky looking, but clings well.

Smell (3.75) - Dominated by tropical fruits--pineapple, mango, some faint bits of grapefruit, and an almost hidden element of the grain bill peeks through, very faint, like lightly toasted white bread. Upon subsequent inhalations, I think I can pick out some lemon zest as well, but it's very fleeting. Very enticing, but I wish it was a little more intoxicating and aromatic. Seems like I'm having to work a tad to get all the characteristics--perhaps because we're at about the two-month mark for this beer? Hard to say without a super-fresh version to compare.

Taste (4.0)- Very quaffable IPA, especially for one hiding a 7% ABV. The mango is predominant here, with bitterness, like grapefruit rind and even some hint of young garden greens balances out with the tropical fruitiness. Lemon zest is a little more obvious here than with the smell. And the malt becomes a bit more detectable with temperature increase.

Mouthfeel (4.0) - A tad on the juicy side, with a light body and carbonation shading on the low side of moderate. Clean, dry finish.

Overall (3.96), a very tasty IPA, but I was expecting to be blown away based on what I've heard about this beer. If it distributed to my area, I would likely grab it from time to time for a change-up, but since it's a bit of a hassle to get my hands on, I probably won't be going out of my way to procure more any time soon.

 4,866 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of BillBabbitt
3.5/5  rDev -20.1%

I know this a very highly rated IPA, but I am not a fan. I have tried this beer on tap and out of a bottle. It pours a beautiful golden color with a rich creamy head , but I find the aftertaste a bit harsh.

 210 characters

Photo of jkrich
4.25/5  rDev -3%

Poured a hazy, golden-orange hue with a sustained, foamy white-head. This seems to be the typical American IPA look. I could not locate a freshness date but there was a number code on the label that may indicate the ale was bottled on the 213 day of 2014.

A very fresh and bittersweet fruity aroma greets the olfactory upon opening the bottle, along with a faint piney, bitter aroma.

The flavor has a surprisingly soft and mellow, citrusy start with a lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue. Very flavorful, but not what I expected given the reviews and especially the aroma. Of course, the bottle is a few months old.

Light to medium bodied with a somewhat thin mouth feel. The citrusy bitterness does linger on the palate.

This is another fine example of the American IPA: full flavored, high in alcohol but so very drinkable.

 843 characters

Photo of dpgoblejr
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Gold in color with tiny bubbles rising to the surface. Off white head that froths around the top and settles to a slight layer of bigger bubbles. Lacing is evident along the edges of glass as it slides down. Smell is of pine and some citrus is found in the background. Tastes of pine, grass, citrus and maybe some bitter hops are dancing on the tongue. Smooth on the palate and slightly creamy with the bitterness finishing it off. Overall, a fantastic IPA to indulge upon!

 480 characters

Photo of OldGriz
4.93/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'll never forget my first taste of Sculpin. It was a magical beer moment for me.

81 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got this bottle from South Bay D&L. Thanks Joey!

It pours a clear and very nice straw gold with a 2 finger head of foam. Plenty of lacing here as well. Very good head retention.

The smell is..whoah...the citrus hits my nose buds first but there's a lot of *other* things going on. Tropical fruit goes hand in hand with grapefruit and I can also smell some malty sweetness. Great nose...now, if I'll just point the glass away from my nose and point it towards my mouth. ;^)

First sip and what a treat. The grapefruit is there in big abundance as are flavours of apricot, peach, and oh yeah, mango; it has a huge presence here and boy does *that* ever work well. Wow. Just before the finish, I get a nice helping of pine but the finish itself, for me, returns to that darn tasty fruitiness that really hits my palate on just the right notes. Again, wow.

It has a near perfect mouthfeel for me and that's helped by a fairly light job of carbonation. Dang, I better slow down here, not because of the abv but because it's so damn tasty and I don't want to be looking at an empty bottle and glass! Yum!

Bottom line: Here's a world class IPA if I've ever tasted one. If you get the chance to try it, don't hesitate for one moment!!

 1,232 characters

Photo of ddean
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance-
Golden yellow, which isn't my favorite color. I'd like more amber or orange in my IPAs. Could be more clear, but I like the frothy head that others have described: it builds quickly and then dissipates right after you have had time to take it in.

Smell-
Here's an interesting one. I get lots of hops, then some sulfur (rotten eggs, skunk?), along with some grapefruit and other citrus that others have put forth. You might think that would be disgusting, but it is quite interesting as a matter of fact, so high marks.

Taste-
I was a little let down here, but it is still quite good. Thin to me, because the grapefruit and the hops dominate. I don't get the pine that others describe, and that is my favorite characteristic of my favorite IPAs (Lagunitas Maximus, Stone Ruination). A little lemon and apricot later on. Definitely good, but there is not much of a counterbalance in the taste.

Mouthfeel-
Smooth, crisp, very nice. I like the superlingering hops. I'm in full agreement with my raving colleagues.

Drinkability-
Goes down nice and easy. The smooth crispness makes me think I'd have no problem reaching for more, but the taste doesn't blow me away quite enough to not want to try other brews in a pub.

In summary, very good stuff, just not the most balanced IPA ever to me. Like the crisp, strong hops, but I want more pine and caramel.

 1,366 characters

Photo of Veeblefetzer
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had a six pack of bottles, purchased in San Clemente. Very nice IPA. Citrus smells, lovely color. Nice hop taste with overtones of grapefruit. Very nicely balanced IPA.

 171 characters

Photo of moundbz
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

looks great, smells great, tastes great with a bitter after taste.

66 characters

Photo of Mmart802
4.73/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Lots of flavors of pine, citrus and hops. Bold taste all the way through.

74 characters

Photo of clingy
5/5  rDev +14.2%

Classic favorite.

17 characters

Photo of frozyn
3.86/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L -- Thick white head with a golden color, somewhat hazy.

S -- Bitter hops, a little pine comes through, along with floral notes and very minute tropical fruit.

T -- Lots of hops creates a nice bitterness. Unfortunately, every time I've had this, the only thing I really get from it is bitterness. I notice slight hints of citrus or pine, but they're always overrun by bitter. I

F -- Light-to-medium feel, very crisp and refreshing. No resin leftover to note of.

O -- A very good beer, but I prefer Jai Alai. For the price, I don't feel it presents a good value, especially given what else is out there. I keep trying this in SWFL and it just hasn't impressed me too much. In fact, as I try more IPAs and other different styles, each successive tasting makes me think less and less of this beer. Perhaps someday I'll be in San Diego and get to try it ridiculously fresh and it will change my mind. Until then....

 922 characters

Photo of DanPiek
2.11/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

I have no idea why this beer rates so high with everyone. Maybe they are not very experienced in drinking a variety of IPAs. Compared to coors light this is a 97, but as far as IPAs go it is as generic as they come. No hop flavor other than bitterness, no malt, crappy carbonation. Overall, nothing special.

 311 characters

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Exceptional west coast IPA....but the Grapefruit version is better by far

73 characters

Photo of chriskelly
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Excellent IPA. One of my top 10 go to IPAs.

43 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at another hipster heaven - Chapter One, Santa Ana, CA.

Did Raul just get himself in on this? Yep, it looks like he did!

Raul done had himself Sculpin many times over like Lindsay Lohan has had rehab visits. Only difference between Sculpin and that podunk ginger is that Raul will keep up with his daily Sculpin regime.

Clean, crisp, and devilishly intoxicating. Line another one up. Yep!

 398 characters

Photo of Harn_SOLO
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pretty much the best IPA I've ever had. The Ballast Point flagship beer really is amazing. A nice citrus flavored hop mixed with some sappy piney notes as well. Very balanced and refreshing. They charge a pretty penny for six-packs, but it really is worth the cost. Golden tint and crisp taste are great!

 304 characters

Photo of UTPharm2012
3/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poor man's Cigar City Jai Alai imo

34 characters

Photo of Joegot4
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic IPA! The gateway beer to hop addiction!

49 characters

Photo of Jessefromthe9
5/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of Austinkrat
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great, balanced IPA. Just the right sweetness too balance the hops. May be the ideal IPA.

89 characters

Photo of tmbgnicu
4.91/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

If I am ever on deathrow, and I am allowed a last meal and can choose the beverage- I want a fresh bottle or can of Sculpin to be my drink. I grabbed a six pack of cans locally with a canned date of 5-20-14- just over two weeks old. The first six pack of Sculpin I had was about 3 months old, and boy was there a difference. The fresh Sculpin was the best ipa I have ever had. It was crisp and clean with the perfect notes and bitterness. West coast IPAs- fanfreakingtastic.

 474 characters

Photo of drtth
4.84/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served in a nonic pint glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: As served the beer is a clear golden orange color with a ½" firm, fluffy white head that recedes to leave patches of foam clinging to the sides of the glass, a ring around the liquid and a patch of foam on the surface of the liquid. Sipping leaves some nice lacing. At least some of the foam and lacing persist through out the beer and there are sticky patterns of lacing on the glass even to the end.

Smell: The aroma is dominated by tropical fruits with a lot of pineapple and mango and is simply a pleasure to sniff. There is also some citrus present but it is more tangerine than bitter grapefruit. Underlying the fruits there is a nice touch of light sweet malt.

Taste: The flavors are crisp, clean and are pretty much what is expected from the nose--a citric, pineapple and mango delight. There is no bite from the hops, just a smooth and balanced bitterness that is fruity, citric, piney, bitter and sweet all at once.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied and smooth with consistent, persistent moderate carbonation. The finish is medium to long and is one of those where things fade a way so smoothly you just don't notice it happening until they are gone.

Drinkability: This beer is so drinkable that I finished it off in about half the time I would normally take with an IPA of the strength of this one. There is not even a trace of harshness in the hop bitterness. I definitely want another one and expect I'll do so without hesitation next time I have a chance. This IPA is now in my top few for the style and I'd love to be able to do a side-by-side tasting with this one, Bell's Two Hearted, and Founders Centennial.

 1,743 characters

Photo of jmd1978
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pale copper color with maybe half finger of head. Nose of apricot, citrus, tropical fruits, little peach. Taste of lemon, pine, orange peel, tropical fruits, and nice hoppy bite on the back end with a hint of breadiness. Dry finish with a nice lingering feel at the end. This is a very good IPA. Very light and refreshing with the bitterness you love. I prefer their dorado but this is a close second in the Ballast line up.

 424 characters

Photo of krbrevard
4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this from Beer Run in Charlottesville, VA. From what I gather, it was pretty fresh.

A: On its cross country quest, tons of carbonation remain. Nice half inch head, golden copper color.
S: Wow- very floral. Some citrus and pine as well. Could possibly be the best i've smelled on a beer.
T: Very nice foretaste, not overpowering. Back end has all the components of the smell and i'm left with a subtle piney and bitterness which i've grown to love in this style of beer. No Alcohol taste whatsoever.
M: Very smooth, crisp, carbonation is very refreshing.
O: I am very impressed with BP. Had Big Eye a few years ago and definitely enjoyed it. The next time i'm in SD i will be coming to the brewery for sure!

 720 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,416 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe