Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

2,464 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,464 | Ratings: 13,671
Photo of MusicaleMike
2.95/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

"Best By" date of 12/22/12.

Body is a bright, hazy golden orange hue. Two fingers worth of white head, which dissipates to a very thin layer quickly, yet leaving a decent lacing on the sides of the glass.

Aroma is not my favorite. Hop character is somewhat grassy and herbal. I know that it may just be something of a fashionable thing to get American IPA's to have a citrus, tropical fruit aroma, but I find it more pleasant. Some cracker maltiness in the background.

Again, I am not too impressed with this beer's taste either. I know that people swear by this IPA, but I could just have some aversion to whatever hops they are using here. It is well-balanced, with only a slight lean towards bitter. Floral hops, slight honeysuckle, biscuit malts.

Decent carbonation level, with some sharpness. Medium body, slight astringency in the finish. Good for the style, enjoyable.

This beer does not live up to the hype. It isn't a bad IPA, but it does not compare to some of the amazing examples out there...Triple Play IPA, HopDevil, Two Hearted, etc....

 1,057 characters

Photo of champ103
3.01/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A friend brought some back to share from a trip to California.

A: Pours with a nice clarity. A bright and vibrant orange color. Two fingers of white head forms with good retention, and plenty of lace is left behind.
S: Bitter hops, lightly resiny, and some orange peal. Pale, grainy malts. The bitterness lingers on and on.
T: Again, mostly just bitterness with a splash of orange fruity flavors. Some very light grainy malts, but mostly a very strong bitterness that just does not stop.
M/D: Very thin and watery. Alarmingly so. A very week body. The bitterness and lack of body makes this a little hard for me to drink.

Mostly some nondescript bitterness and that is it. Add the very thin body, and I am not impressed. Just an average IPA. Nothing I would really recommend.

 777 characters

Photo of ncaudle
3.01/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

poured from bomber into snifter.
no date code on bottle but local bottle shop had just received it the previous week.

pours a orange/gold color with thick white head. some nice lacing left around the glass.

some hop aromas there but not in your face like most other IPAs - kind of subdued. citrus and floral. taste is crisp but there is this funk going on which I just can't wrap my tongue around... almost "fishy" tasting to use the bottle label as point of reference. not a pleasant taste.

nice mouthfeel with right amount of carbonation.

drinkability would be much higher if it didnt have that funky taste. not a drain pour or anything but I won't be buying this again.

 677 characters

Photo of Longstaff
3.03/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Bought a six pack of Sculpin cans the other day. code on the bottom says 14028, so I am assuming this is pretty fresh - abt 2 wks old - unless I'm not deciphering it correctly.

IMO, this is no better than old school caramelly New England IPA with just a little bit drier finish. Hop character was weak and grassy, no citrusy/tropical fruit flavors. Draft has been inconsistent too - sometimes boozy and thin, sometimes decently hoppy, sometimes malty. What the heck happened to that juicy hop bomb like when it first came to the boston area in bombers? I think I'm about done with this beer as I am with GF WC IPA - two beers ruined by increased production.

 659 characters

Photo of Minkybut
3.03/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this IPA into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was ugly cloudy colored but did have a very nice luxurious poofy head. The Hay colored beer was very hoppy and smelled very hoppy also. Just like it should have. I think it was what an IPA should be but I will not buy it again, tooo hoppy for me.

 304 characters

Photo of FamousCharlie
3.04/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I am an IPA drinker mostly that is all I ever drink I just feel like I have had way better before just somthing about this beer never really made me want to go back out and drink it again

 187 characters

Photo of crotharagain
3.06/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Underwhelmed. Traded for this with a Gray Sail Brewing Captain's Daughter. Granted, the Sculpin had been sitting in a hot car over the weekend, therefore I want to give it another shot ASAP.

 192 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
3.08/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

09/19/10- Had a bottle of this courtesy of Pabs311.
A: Hazy amber, nice cream head dies to a good film.
S: Nice mix of hops: grass, grapefruit, resiny pine; honey and mild fruit (like strawberries) come through as well.
T: Very bitter, resiny, with a cheese finish. There are roasted walnuts, honey and pale malts. It is clean and mild but overly bitter (unbalanced).
M: Slightly syrupy, but with a good frothiness.
D: Good, while being very bitter.

I had another chance to try this beer over this past weekend (06/18/11) in a bomber that was most certainly fresh. My description of this beer in this review is good, but my ratings are overly high. Smell was changed to 3.5 from 4.5. Taste was changed from 3.5 to 2.5. Drinkability was changed from 3.5 to Overall 3.0. One glass was more than enough and my group was fighting over who would draw the short straw to finish the bottle. This was a disappointing brew and I probably won't get it again.

 949 characters

Photo of jrsqc7
3.09/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Are you in the market for a one dimensional IPA? How about one that really, substantively,, the embodiment of the "California" IPA, where you get one dimensional hop bitterness, no malt profile worth speaking of? If that sounds right up your alley, then, hey, you're gonna love this beer. It's got hops. Then, it's got more hops. Even more hops come in latter. The mouthfeel and head retention are the best things about this beer.

Enjoyed with an unfiltered lucky strike.

 479 characters

Photo of czarnowski
3.09/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sculpin India Pale Ale by Ballast Point Brewing Company is an average example of the style. I found that like many IPAs, the pine flavor was overwhelming. I don't find skunky, bitter, and unbalanced beer all that appealing. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous amber color. I liken it to a hot blonde with bad breath.

 318 characters

Photo of 1ale_man
3.1/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Darker yellow look and clear. Had a slight citrusy smell but more malty. The first taste was great. Citrusy and maybe even some grapefruit. After that nothing special. More malt. The mouth feel is ok. Not watery. Overall it's an ok ipa. Maybe a real fresh one would be different. Don't get the hype. For the price, $14.99 for a sixer, I won't have anymore. It's not throw away.

 377 characters

Photo of tewaris
3.11/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

70 IBUs

22 oz. bomber with no freshness date poured into a New Belgium globe. Thanks Dan!

Appearance 5/5
Golden-tangerine with the appropriate haze of a dry hopped IPA, Sculpin poured with a big off white head that took its time to settle and left kickass lacing. Signature American IPA looks. Perfect.

Aroma 4/5
Lots of fruity hops in the aroma: most notably apricot and then some mango. Just a hint of the herbal character that comes with dry hopping. Very good, but not up there in my opinion.

Taste 3/5
Smoothly bitter but hugely lacking flavor, and rather one dimensional. Is it not fresh? No one will know because Ballast Point doesn't date the bottles. Leaves a bitter aftertaste even though it's not all that bitter that brings us to the next item, mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel 2.5/5
Even though it says right on the bottle that this is a light bodied ale, I don't deem that a good excuse for an almost entirely missing malt backbone. Thin, and very thin when warm. Finishes dry but what's the point? I firmly believe that there should be a stronger body and more malts in a 7% ABV beer.

Overall 2/5
Sculpin was underwhelming, big time. There was no malt backbone whatsoever and the hop flavor was entirely missing in the taste in spite of the great aroma. Scupin is not the most bitter IPA but that's not my beef -- fresh Two Hearted is a great example of a fruity IPA that's not a bitterness bomb, and yet is amazing.

 1,425 characters

Photo of chupachups01
3.11/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hi points for this beer holding up this long. Poured into Teku glass after being bottled for 6 months. Slightly hazy pale gold. Aroma lacks what I had back in California. Taste is still a very well balanced beer. Solid.

 219 characters

Photo of fcbrew
3.12/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Bought a six pack at BevMo in LaJolla, CA (high volume store) from a refrigerated case February 1, 2013. It was kept chilled until opened the same day.

Poured into a pint glass- a hazy yellow-orange. The head was thin and dissipated quickly. There was no hint of hop aroma no citrus, no grapefruit- actually no detectable aroma at all. The taste was bitter with little or no maltiness. The mouthfeel was thin. There was an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. Poorly balanced. Not a particularly good IPA. I was expecting an excellent IPA based upon previous reviews. This is not at all similar to Pliny the Elder as has been suggested by other reviewers.

I had bought a six pack of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA last year and it was not very good then but, I hesitated to write a critical review because I felt that it might have been a bad sample. However, having bought it again and again having a negative impression, I decided to write this review. Very disappointed.

 965 characters

Photo of samie85
3.13/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes; originally 6/10/11.

A-Pours a clear orange with a finger of white head with suspended hop matter throughout.

S-Apricot and grapefruit notes with a strong pine resin finish.

T-Dry, bitter apricot and pine with a bitter, bordering on astringent piny finish.

M-A little over-carbonated for the style, in my honest opinion, with a thin body and bone dry feel.

D-A little difficult to finish for me due to the combination of the very dry feel and the hop profiles used.

 490 characters

Photo of viverlee
3.15/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Doc review today. $MM-level deal and I’m pretty sure no one will read the summary or care about the risks until it goes south, when all of the sudden the group unit leaders will wonder out loud, “How the fuck did this get past legal?” Let me tell you now how: I told you it was poo-poo, and you went ahead and did it anyway because “we need the volume.” That’s how it got past legal. I was overruled.

I’m 100 percent certain more people will read this free post about a $7 beer than GULs will dare actually read about the seven-figure risk we just assumed.

STYLE: American IPA

ABV: 7%

LOOK: The fizz rises quickly, leaving a thin but firm cantaloupe jello. Can’t get a head to last more than a few seconds, first because I’m drinking it (more on that later) and almost just as importantly because it won’t hold.

NOSE: Apricot, mangoes, buttered popcorn. A pleasant hybrid of Magic Hat #9 and 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA. The fruit, it’s more real, less processed. The butter, it’s nicer, more subtle.

MOUTH: Straight to pine. Maybe some clean pebbles too? The weight is nice, but there’s really only one thing to remember: Make sure you get a good head because it absolutely changes the beer for the better — a real mellower. Soft foam and strong bite, it’s like hoppy espresso. Quite good if you can get it, rather meh if you can’t.

Beeradvocate Rating: 98

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77

 1,430 characters

Photo of Prospero
3.16/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Interesting beer. Thought I should try this as I like more balanced IPAs that have the malt backbone to support the hops.

The pour looked great, clear amber/copper color with white head and smelt strongly of malts, maybe a hint of piney hops in the nose, but mostly the caramel & breadiness of the malts broke through. Slight hint of grapefruit in the nose, but not as much as I would have liked.

Taste wise it wasn't at all what I was expecting, strong malt-forward beer here that had a strong caramel and breadiness/yeast like flavor with the grapefruit noticeable, but not dominate. For an IPA I was baffled as to how the hops had fallen to the back in this beer.

Mouthfeel is great, it's a very drinkable beer that's very smooth, almost no bitterness to this beer, probably due to the lack of dominant hops. Light carbonation.

All-in-all a good solid beer, but not at all what I expected in a balanced IPA. Most of the time I think IPAs as overly hopped up and never would have figured there'd be an IPA that was overly malted up.

 1,038 characters

Photo of justjonas
3.17/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This is a well balanced beer, but nothing really pops for me in this one anymore. I enjoyed the grapefruit variant very much. However I think the price of this standard edition is a bit much when compared to similar offerings.

 226 characters

Photo of bierguru
3.18/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -
almost a clear straw color with high carbonation
head is pretty good stays well then laces fairly thick

S -
hop and citrus

T -
hop and finishes with a strong citrus dry bite

M -
mild feel with a drying to it

D -
its okay had better however better then most

 267 characters

Photo of armock
3.19/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at the main brewery's tasting room.

A - Poured a golden color with a white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Well it smell like cat piss I hate when IPAs smell like this

T - It tastes better than it smells with citrus grapefruit hop flavors

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

O - I don't get the hype thats with this beer yes it does taste good but I feel like I can't breath before taking a sip because of the smell to each his own I guess

 480 characters

Photo of ifnkovhg
3.19/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. No freshness date as far as I can tell.

This beer was very Jeckyll and Hyde for me. Great appearance: burnt orange, maybe a bit hazy. Big, billowy head that never quite disappears completely. Great lacing.

The smell is also terrific: citrusy, apricot, peach (as others have noted). The taste is in keeping with the smell.

But in the aftertaste and mouthfeel, this one loses me. Oily mouthfeel that really dominates in the back of the throat, and parks itself. Should beer make you thirsty? Plus a bitter aftertaste that lingers.

I think that while my hop tolerance has climbed, I may not be ready for IPAs.

 651 characters

Photo of JackStott
3.2/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I was especially excited to try this IPA based upon the excellent ratings. It pours a hazy golden amber with decent head and lacing. The aroma is lightly citrus and pine. The taste is essentially a middle of the road IPA. It is rather poorly balanced with little citrus/pine hop taste. Definitely nothing special. I tried this IPA twice at different times on tap and once in a bottle. At $13.99 a six pack, it is no bargain. I can't understand all of the high ratings.

 468 characters

Photo of SFC21
3.2/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bomber poured into Sam Adams pint glass

A - Pours a hazy, golden color with a nice 1 inch head. Leaves some nice lacing the whole way down.

S - Citrus and floral hops, smells lovely.

T - Citrus and light malts to start and then an absolute wallop of bitter, piney hops. Far too much bitterness for my liking and the bitterness just lingers at the back of my mouth.

M - Some creaminess with nice carbonation.

O - I was really looking forward to this one after all of the great reviews but unfortunately I was left disappointed. Perhaps this is more of a brew for the hop heads that love the bitterness but for me I prefer a little more balance.

 653 characters

Photo of Bendurgin
3.21/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks for the bottle Randy! Poured into a tulip. Pours a hazy golden orange with a finger of head.

Muted hops in the aroma. Candied orange in the aroma but not much a hop profile. The taste is a simmilar to the aroma. Candied orange flavors but a bit more of a noticable hop bittering to the finish. Much better.

The body is medium and the carbonation is a bit sharp.

Damn you Ballast Point! Put bottle dates on your beers. This can't be a super fresh bottle! I've had this beer before and I remember liking it a lot more. I'll try it again but I can only blow so much of my money on old beers.

 599 characters

Photo of evanlarkin
3.21/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Lots of foamy white head, almost 3 fingers of it. The beer itself is more of a golden yellow honey color. It has some slight haze to it, but that might be from the low temperature.

Piney and lemony. What we have here is a bottle of Pinesol, no doubt. Some apricot also comes in, which is a pretty nice little change from the usual grapefruit flavors we've been seeing lately.

Wow, WAY drier than what I was expecting from the smell. On top of that, it's extremely piney. The bottle mentions several fruits, but if they're in there, they can't stand up to the crazy amount of pine in this thing. There's a good amount of bitterness sticking around too.

A light body that really sticks to you. There's something kind of syrupy about it actually.

Solid, but not as well balanced as I'd like. Definitely has a high drinkability, and it might be a good introductory IPA due to it's light body and non-overwhelming bitterness. Would I have another? Maybe. Would I buy another bomber? Probably not.

 1,041 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,671 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.