Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

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

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Reviews: 2,420 | Ratings: 13,365
Photo of BastardKing24
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've wanted to review this beer for a while, but I've only had it once. This is my 2nd time.

Pours a dark gold/orange, with a small white head that falls to a ring and some bubbles.

Smells like some serious hops, grapefruit, pine, lemon, some malt backbone, and kinda peppery.

Taste is heavenly with loads of fresh hops, a perfect selection of them. Orange rind, lemon zest, apricot, also I get a taste very similar to my own tangerines that I have from my tree. Very inviting with sort of a peppery note in there, like an anaheim chile taste. A decent amount of bittering hops flavor resides on the tail end of the taste.

Mouthfeel is generous with a nice balance of thickness per sweetness ratio. Medium to full carbonation gives it a prickly taste bud experience. I like this brew alot and wish other breweries could come up with similar but equally unique recipes. So far Lagunitas Sucks is on par with it, and also pliny the elder. Give this one a try you won't regret it. Also I am pairing this with cracked pepper cheese curds from my local farmstead shop, giving it another dimmension as well. Good IPA's deserve to be paired well with good food.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. can

Pours a clear golden color with a coarse two inch head, dissipates very slowly to a lacing.

Smells of honey, buttered bread, grapefruit, and pine.

The taste is of honey and bready malt with a maple hop followed by hints of strawberry, passion fruit, and orange citrus. Finished with a piney bitterness.

Medium body with tingly carbonation on the tongue.

An exceptionally good IPA that does everything right. Drinks very easy and smooth. Deserves to be in the pantheon of great American IPAs. If anything could stand improvement, its the mouthfeel which is every so slightly thin for what the beer is. Otherwise, top notch.

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Photo of orfeu
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Total Wine in Phoenix, AZ. "Enjoy by 08/12/13." Poured into an Alesmith Ten Year Anniversary tulip glass. Golden orange in color, somewhat hazy but mostly clear. Rapidly thinning cream-colored head. Appealing thick, sticky lacing. Aromas of pine, candied grapefruit, lemon rind. Slight malt sweetness at first, but a sturdy bitterness quickly takes over and sustains throughout the finish. A caramel-sweet base carries massive citrus rind and pine sap flavors. Some soft apricot and mango notes appear throughout. Nice and light on the palate with a smooth, dry finish. Must-try for IPA aficionados, although somewhat pricey at $9 a bottle.

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Photo of Duff27
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours an orange or a dark golden with a slight red hue. Half-inch white head. Plentiful lacing. Magnificent.

S- Is "fresh" a smell? Wonderful floral hop notes. Wow.

T- Citrus...more specifically grapefruit. Pine. Hop spice. Hint of pineapples which is my favorite fruit, hmm.

M- Very creamy. Has a fantastic bite to it.

D/O- I'm overwhelmed at how good this IPA is. Don't know if this comes in 12 ounce bottles but when I asked if there were any in the back I was told "well, let's see if we have any big bottles of it." Luckily, they did have a few bombers on the shelf. I just want to thank all the BA's (especially Bob from the GLBF...don't know his BA name) that recommended this beer on a seemingly daily basis. Definitely worth making a special stop to check if a place 3 hours from home has it. I'm in IPA euphoria right now. Life is good.

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Photo of KidDoc
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 12 oz can into std pint glass. Nice full fluffy head with medium retention. Very sticky lacing. For me this is a fantastically balanced IPA with notes of pine and citrus in the aroma. The flavor follows beautifully. Just a hint of astringent bitterness on the back of the palate but overall nice balanced mouthfeel. This has been in my regular rotation since I first tasted it. Very disappointed when I get an old bottle or a low turnover draft (I know, how could a keg of this last too long?). Lives up to the hype.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pulled fresh out of a new case right in front of my wonderful girls eyes! I can't believe this is finally in upstate NY!

A- Pours a beautiful crisp golden yellow, a ton of fluffy bright white foam sits on top leaving tons of sticky lacing as it fades away. Really nice carbonation!

S- HUGE amounts of fresh grapefruit!!! Nice piney fresh cut grass notes. Pineapple, peaches, green apple, and a hint of yeast and sweet malt finish. This is fantastic!!!

T- Beautiful bitter citrus and pine hit you right in the kisser!!! Lemon, grapefruit, nectarines, and a nice sweet grassiness. The light malts lend a nice sweetness, just a hint of fruity yeast.

M- Bitter, fruity, creamy, and wonderful! Starts of citrusy and slightly bitter... turns creamy and sweet before the piney citrus kicks the front door in and comes on like a S.W.A.T. team raid!!! This is pretty damn fine!

O- Not a perfect balance between citrus/bitter and malty/yeasty sweetness... but it's fantastic just the same! Really comes alive as it warms up a bit. So happy that I've finally got to try this fresh!

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Photo of galwayjoyce
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

How did the Bros. rate this above Heady Topper?!
I used to live in San Diego, and I am from Boston. There was a time that west coast IPA's were the word...until neo-east coast took back the reigns.

This is a great IPA, but with the likes of Limbo, Heady Topper, Fair Maiden, and what only the local New England crowd is now trying, it is a BIT old hat...but still an awesome damn IPA.
Fruity, bitter, and lingering. This is what an IPA should be. There are better out there...but not many.

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Photo of itsscience
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a goblet

Pours a cloudy gold color with a thin layer of white head that soon disappears. The nose has both grapefruit and crackery malt notes in great abundance, competing with one another. There's orange peel, lemon, and oily hop resin here as well. The taste starts with sweet, crackery malts, tropical fruits, and oranges, then bites hard on the finish with hop bitterness accentuated by a decent level of carbonation. It's medium bodied and goes down dry.

Sculpin is the benchmark for balanced IPAs: it's refreshing even though it finishes bitter, because its dryness keeps that bitterness from lingering too long, plus the sweet malts and tropical fruits prevent the hop bite from destroying your taste buds, so you are always left wanting that next sip.

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Photo of gr0g
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, pale amber color. Two finger head with good retention. Sparse, but nice and intricate lace curtains adorn the glass. Pungent, fruity, floral aroma. Even though this bottle is only 4 weeks old, if the info on is still up to date, it doesn't seem as aromatic as previous bottles I've had. Still, there's a lot to enjoy here. Well integrated tropical fruit, citrus rind, and sap.

Wonderfully bitter from start to finish. Moderately dry with a steady malt undercurrent that never overshadows the hop notes. Bitter citrus rind is prominent. Very quaffable for a bold IPA. Texture is oily and sudsy, with just a bit of a prickliness from the carbonation shortly after the pour.

More than the sum of its parts, Sculpin lives up to its billing as an elite IPA. For lack of a better term, it's more "drinkable" than other 7%-8% IPAs, though also more expensive.

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Photo of C20Percent
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*Pretty-fresh 12 oz. bottle of Sculpin*

A: A surprisingly pale bronzy-orange with a healthy eggshell colored head, which laces nicely in the beginning, but falls off rather quickly. The pale color makes the absence of bubbles quite noticeable. There are some, and I know this isn't a Belgian, but I guess I expected more. The appearance was just average for me.

S: The ABSOLUTE best feature of this beer. I can't say enough about the aroma. It's a citrus explosion. Grapefruit, tangerine and passion fruit sting my nostrils in the best way. Founders Double Trouble is the most citrusy beer I've probably ever had, but this might be the most citrusy smelling beer.

T: A grapefruit, candied-lemon taste dances all over the tongue before leaving behind a bitter, dry finish that leaves you wanting more. It's a good thing this beer is pretty easy drinking. My only criticism is the taste is subdued from the smell -- the sale is better than the payoff.

M: Nothing negative here. Medium carbonation, medium-heavy body, which is what I like out of a IPA. A hoppy chewiness that coats the mouth. And, no booziness. The alcohol is well-managed, although I do expect that out of a 7% abv IPA.

O: Super solid. Better than the Big Eye IPA. This beer certainly lives up to the hype. Taste fresh. Taste great.

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Photo of billshmeinke
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to pint glass.

A: Orange/amber/honey in color. Very clear, bubbles rushing to the top. One and a half finger bubbly white head. Head retention is very impressive, a half finger layer of foam remains throughout. Great lacing that clings to the sides of the glass.

S: Could smell this beer even before pouring after the bottle was opened. Dank, resin, tropical fruits (mango, pineapple). A light maltiness is hiding behind the copious hop fragrance.

T: Dank, resin, a hint of pine, mango, peach, a bit of apricot, a hint of bubble gum, and again a hint of honey malts is scared to show itself in the presence of these glorious hop flavors. Lingering hop bitterness.

M: Clean, crisp, and well carbonated. Light to medium bodied. There's a nice bite at the end of each sip as well from the carbonation/hops. A bit creamy too.

D: I mean, if you like your IPAs complexly hoppy, you will want to drink as much of this as you can.

Hands down my favorite IPA.

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Photo of timtim
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

very nice... a lot of hype about this one, and it pretty much lives up to it. just a simple, delicious san diego ipa. pours a fairly clear, glowing burnt-gold with a big white head that never goes away and leaves tons of lace as the beer goes. nose is fruit galore mixed with a nice, pale malt backbone that lends mild sweetness and blends and harmonizes just about perfectly. the malt character amplifies the hop profile instead of simply adding tons of sweetness to mellow the harsh flavor of tons of hops like other less-finessed ipas from ballast point's neck of the woods. mango, peach, nectarine, melon, citrus, pine and resin (read: pot) all with a really bright, pure, fresh-fruit-juice-on-the-beach-in-SoCal quality. speaks of the place where it comes from. unmistakeable. that awesome ocean-air-tropical-paradise thing that you get from the best SoCal ipas. taste is well-balanced, and like the nose suggested, the fruity hops (and yeast?) incorporate extremely well with the pale malt, which produces some sweetness and a touch of toastiness. some pineyness comes through in the end as well, and it kind of zips it up rather than bitters it up. medium body that seems to effortlessly carry the weight of all the hoppy goodness. another example of how well-chosen the grain bill is here. long, hoppy finish that is very mild on the bitter and virtually free of any alcohol taste or aftertaste. i've kind of grown out of my ipa phase, but this one was really well made, tasted like san diego in a bottle and definitely left me wanting more. a real treat. sets the bar as far as i'm concerned.

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Photo of oberon
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great to get my hands on some of this stuff (thanks Roger at Bestway).Poured into a small tulip glass a clear light golden with a clingy 1/2 finger white head.Holy smokes the aromas are just awesome!A mix of big citrus and tangerine just jump out at ya,a hint of caramel/biscuit is there but its a little faint but hey who cares the hop profile is frickin great.Fresh hop flavors abound with tangerine sticking out the most,its lemony with a bit of mango and overripe pineapple,the sweet biscuit malt base does not hide itself as it holds on thru the duration of the glass.Iam not sure if I have had a beer of the style with such fruity hop complexity,wow this is worthy of the rating.

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Photo of Homebrew35
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best by 6/27/13
Pours two fingers worth of a soapy white head.
Clear straw colored body with lots of lacing and some head retention

Awesome floral, fruity and some what dank hoppy smell.
This is one of the best year round IPAs I've had in a while.

Taste is fairly grassy, citrusy and resinous. The grassy aftertaste detracts from this one slightly.

Medium thin bodied, medium carbonation. Fairly dry finish keeps this one quite drinkable and somewhat refresing.

Great beer with the aroma being the best part. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. High drink-ability with a fairly good price tag at $15 a 6 packs makes this even better.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2009)

Home Brew Mart
San Diego, CA

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

Fills the room with tropical fruit aromas; smells like orange, mango, and pineapple even from a distance, literally filling the room with aroma.

Absolutely outstanding IPA taste. Not overly hoppy like some of my (other) favorite IPAs, but incredibly balanced, yet still bitter. Fruit flavors again emerge after the hop bitterness, including mango and lemon. As ironic and silly as it sounds, the taste is perfectly bitter/sweet.

Not particularly heavy or thick in the mouth, goes down easy. Medium body.

Absolutely, without a doubt, one of my favorite IPAs.
Is there a reason this isn't brewed all year? Is it just to get people like me to buy a dozen bombers the day it's released!?!
Either way, keep 'em comin'!

(Edit (2011): I guess they listened to me! Just picked up a year-round 6-pack for my dad!)

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Photo of joeseppy
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a translucent golden body with a dense half inch head. Stratospheric lacing.

Aroma is uplifting of freshly squeezed grapefruit served alongside honeyed graham crackers. Also pineapple noted as well.

Taste is a taut resinuous pine, earthy hop bud and grapefruit rind that engulfs the entire palate and stays right in the back of your pie hole. Malty biscuit sweetness balances this act.

Mouthfeel is chewy and there is a drying effect that makes you want to keep drinking. A 'refreshing' brew in an odd way.

For those who like to hop we salute you. A satisfying IPA. Reminiscent of Two Brothers ( Illinois ) seasonal Hop Juice for me, which I love. The $16 6pk is a tad rich for my tastes. Other comparables out there at a lower price tag.

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Photo of dmsohyea
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 2/12/11 at Barley and Hops, Temecula, CA

While I have had this beer before several times, I haven't reviewed it. It's certainly one of my favorite beers. Possibly the best single IPA in San Diego.

A: Pours light orange with a significant amount of hazy sediment. In previous samplings, I don't recall such a large amount of haze. Lacing is perfect and sticks to the glass the whole way down.

S: Exceptional. Strong hop bouquet with a grapefruit and oranges. Very few other beers have this much punch in the scent.

T: Strong hop bitterness upfront with grapefruit, pine and orange. On the backside this beer is not bitter and very smooth. Incredible execution.

M: Creamy with moderate carbonation.

D: A strong, hoppy beer that I could easily drink several of. The alcohol is almost undetectable under all of the complex flavor.

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Photo of TheSeeker61
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a lemony orange with a 2 finger head. Has a nice apricot fruity nose. The tongue is grapefruity with hints of apricot followed by dark fruit with a hint of malt. The mouthfeel is moderate. This is truly an awesome offering and will try it again.

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Photo of MNishCT77
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can at Nanny O'Brien's Irish Pub in Cleveland Park, NW D.C.; dated "14338 18:24"; poured out of the can into a standard pint glass; drank over 30 minutes on Tues., 01/13/2015

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Photo of phingdong
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from a very fresh bottle. I have had a few not so fresh bottles since and it really drops off quickly IMO. If my first try of this beer had been an older bottle, this review would be much different and I would not have sought out the beer again. Since I was lucky to have it fresh, here we go:

A - nice bright, golden hue with a 2 finger head.

S - Wow. Flowers, citrus, tropical fruit. No dank/pine hops here, just a pure tropical fruit bomb. The smell is outstanding.

T - taste follows the smell, with a bit less punch. Citrus, tropical goodness with each smell and sip.

M - mouthfeel is nice if a bit thin. Coats nicely but I might prefer a bit more body.

Overall this beer is outstanding when fresh. Has one of the best aromas of any beer I've tried. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to know if it is fresh without bottle dating. I would love to keep buying this but will not until it is dated properly.

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Photo of fps_dean
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden orange color.

The aroma of this beer is very mild, but pleasant. It smells fairly piney and fruity.

The beer itself tastes like piney hops... and grapefruit. I have had the habanero version previously, and the habaneros added their own fruity flavor but took away from the holiness of the beer itself. With the plain version of itself, the hops are a lot stronger and the flavor profile is improved (and believe me, I do love the flavor of habaneros too).

Overall this might be my favorite IPA without going into double territory and will definitely be picking it up again, although not as much as I like due to the price. It goes down very smooth, and along with its fruity flavor it makes a great beer in hot weather (although not inappropriate during the winter either).

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours into glass a hazy amber/orange, with minimal white head that fizzes away within a minute. Almost no lacing.

Aromas of grapefruit, pineapple, citrus, hops. Very pleasant.

Really pleasant, heavenly mouthfull of citrus hops, grapefruits, pineapple all swirling on the tongue complimenting each other. With a medium body, this is good stuff.

Fantastic. A great example of the great West Coast IPA. Look forward to more.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is bright, clear, delicious IPA goodness!! It has such a smooth finish to it for a 7% IPA. The hops are fresh and full of citrus, pine, fresh cut grass and other herbal notes but the base malts come through clean and smooth too! Nice balance in this beer so I will purchase again.

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Photo of Tony_D
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very nice, translucent, amber color. Creamy white head quickly dissipates with nice lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Piney and floral. Get some small hints of simcoe in the nose but overall has a great hop aroma.

T: Taste is great. Perfect balance of maltiness and hop bitterness.

M: Once again this is spot on. Extremely well balanced and hop forward as one would expect from an IPA.

O: In my opinion this is one of the best IPAs that you can find in Georgia or North Carolina. It has a great flavor and aroma. This is a perfect beer for cold winter nights but would also be perfect on a warm summer evening.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a crystal clear medium golden yellow with light amounts of visible carbonation and a finger tall off white head. The head reduces by about 50% very quickly but the rest remains throughout the beer. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Wonderful aromas of citrus and grapefruit from the hops followed by hints of apricot. An amazing smelling beer - one of my favorites.

T: Lots of fruity/citrusy hops - intense citrus, grapefruit, and mango. Very delicious and probably my favorite American IPA.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate to high amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky.

O: I love this beer and want more, more, more... Great aroma and a taste that matches. Very easy to drink and very enjoyable. I will be picking up more of this the next time I come across it at the store.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,420 ratings.
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