Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

2,473 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: 2,473 | Ratings: 13,713
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sculpin, huh? One of those sought-after gems on BA here. Hey, it's good, yeah. Not unique. Just real orange on the spectrum of looks and, in a skewed way, flavor. A lot of citrus/tropical elements to the brew. First off, it sports a lovely smooth, Orange-Julius-foamy head that holds tight and lasts awhile atop the misty-dank sunny-orange corpus cervezus - very attractive on a seaside holiday frozen-cocktail tip. Brightly-pulsating waves of melon/custard/pineapple/coconut/ project feet from the glass - quite enticing, yet almost pedestrian. From here, I lose sense of the whole "IPA" tag and tune in to a citrus-zest-fest-injection. Not screaming beer/ale with the sip... Fruity, smooth, and thick. Refreshing, but leaving some citric-slick smear behind. Nectary to an extent. Complex collage of tropic fruit dominates, surfing a wave of bold, creamy, dextriny malt - apropos considering this mix or balance of the hops - couldn't imagine this with a snappy, dry feel... It's good - not representative(?) of the (moderate) degree of hype I've been attuned to. Happy to have met with it this one time.

 1,105 characters

Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.95/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A - Hazy, burnished yellow-gold. Frothy, thick off-white head. Carbonation looks light.

S - Hmm. Seems a bit subdued. Some juicy fruit and grassy hop character. Light malt character in the background. What's there smells good, but it's pretty subdued.

T - Okay, things are getting a bit better. The same juicy, tropical fruit character carries over here. It's difficult to describe. Kind of like sugared grapefruit and canned peaches. There's also some grassy hop flavor in the finish. However, that said, it's still strangely subdued. And I don't mean just hop character, because as with the nose, the malt is barely evident, providing just a bit of light sweetness for the backbone. I'm not getting any crystal malt, so I wonder if some other specialty grain is backing the hops to give them that unique flavor.

MF - The carbonation isn't very high, giving some it some body. It's fine, but nothing special.

D - At 7%, Sculpin is pretty average in the alcohol department, but it drinks incredibly easy. It's a very delicate beer, with complex flavors that leave me wanting a whole growler to myself. I didn't expect it, but I can't imagine giving it anything other than a five here.

 1,188 characters

Photo of rootbeerman
4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from notes 12/3/10

A: pours dark yellow-orange got a bit of sediment so a little haze. a finger of head settles to a thin layer with a bit of lacing.
S: powerful grapefruit and pine, a bit of sweet malt to soften the hop hit.
T/M: a bit more malty than expected from a west coast IPA, grapefruit and pine. also a little bit of under-tongue hop, carbonation is good, medium to light.
D: very drinkable, balanced malt and hop, just hoppy enough to make it a new favorite yet uncommon enough that can almost never find it.

 523 characters

Photo of hoppyhampy
4.64/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

220z bottle poured into a tulip. No freshness info. Pours a relatively clear and bright amber, more yellow than orange. One inch of frothy foam slowly dissipates leaving good lacing. Little carbonation. Beautiful nose! Mango, pineapple, and fresh, piny hops. A hint of rich malt sweetness can be detected under it all. Medium-light bodied but also flat. Not syrupy at all though. Goes down smooth without destroying the palate. Bight and playful hops have only light resiny character. Citrus, orange blossom, and pine on the palate with almost no trace of malty heaviness. Just the way I like it! This is probably the best non imperial IPA I have ever had. I can only imagine how good this would be if it were fresh from the brewery.

 733 characters

Photo of eggplantwiz
4.37/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a nonic glass

A: a mellow copper/golden color, medium in opacity. Very fine carbonation with extra-light lacing and a small head.

S: pine, pine and more pine. undertones of citrus -- mostly grapefruit. The scent is not overwhelming for an IPA, but pleasant and mellow.

T: Smooth, and sweet to start with mango / fruity (hint of banana) notes, citrus backbone and a crisp dry finish.

M: crisp. A near ideal level of carbonation for an IPA Slightly light in body, but near perfect on this point to my taste.

D: Exceedingly drinkable. Would have another, and another...

 603 characters

Photo of brendanbeer
4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a. orange, light gold. nice silky head, lingers lightly.

s. pine and citrus, like a mellow pliny or hopslam

t. again same with the reserved hopslam or pliny, but missing in the complexity. its good, perhaps my bottle is a little bit too old, ive heard the fresher the better. this is about a month or two old.

m. carbonated a bit. bit more would be better. but nice soft feel.

d. pretty drinkable. 4 describes it well.

 422 characters

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: An amazingly clear copper body capped with a small white foamy head that recedes quickly to island foam.

S: A strong aroma of grapefruit, tropical fruit, apricots, pine, and peaches with a hint of bittering hops. To me, it smells like cascade or simcoe hops, with just enough sweetness and bitterness in the nose, but very well balance.

T: A nice upfront grapefruit and apricot flavor with notes of pine, followed with a dry malty flavor, and ends with a balance hoppy bitterness. A long lasting finish which makes this a very good IPA.

M: Smooth and crisp texture; medium body; medium carbonation.

D: Really enjoy this beer. Not a chuggable beer, but one you can sit, enjoy, and drink slowly. And before you know it, you've drank 5-6 of these. A little fruitier then most IPAs, but a must try for an IPA lover.

 818 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Poured a murky golden haze. Retained a nice head and carbonation throughout. Smell consisted of pines and "sweaty" hops. Tasted a big hop character, mango and lemon zest. Crisp and light bitter finish in regard to mouthability. Drank down smooth; a nice and solid IPA with an interesting character.

 311 characters

Photo of leakyfaucet12
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a-huge white head that will not go away. Golden body that is full of fizzy bubbles.

s- Smells so good, tons of fruity hopps and tons of pine.

t- A little more fruity tasting than most of the IPAs I have had. THe hops are bitter and toung battering.

M- Tons of carbonation and great body to this one. I really enjoy it

D- I could drink alot of this beer thanks to afk sports for this surprise. A very pleasant one at that

 424 characters

Photo of THECPJ
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes 12/3/2010

A: smells slightly sweet, but profound citrus hop scents, and a hint of pine.

Ap: gold yellow with a 1 finger white head

B/T: mild carbonation, well balanced, smooth and crisp

Af: hits the tongue with a pungent citrus flavor, mostly lemony, bitter, lingers for awhile

O: not knowing the date of my bottle, i feel that i can't give a fair review, it's a well balanced west coast IPA.


 434 characters

Photo of rcusick
4.07/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

recently acquired bomber poured into a dogfish head signature glass (1 main pour and one top off)

pours a bright golden color, much lighter then i expected. with a strong foamy inch of head, that slowly faded away into a thick (large bubble lacing).

this beer smells amazing. a clean and bright hoppy smell with out being over overpoweringly piny or citrusy, a very well balanced hop smell.

where the smell was very balanced the taste wasn't, this tastes of straight hops without much maltyness to balance it out. That doesn't mean its bad, its just a very hop centric brew, even for an IPA.

as for drinkability, i will have no trouble finishing this bottle off, but i will likely save my second bottle for when i have company that would enjoy it.

 751 characters

Photo of krayziejman
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a New Belgium globe. Pours a hazy golden color with a large 3 finger head that lingers for some time.

S: Lots of citrus fruit and some pine. Mango also seems to be predominant.

T: Very smooth and well blended hop flavors. Tastes of mango, peach and grapefruit. Does not finish very bitter like many dipas.

M: Excellent mouthfeel. Perfect level of carbonation creates a creamy but not overdone sensation.

D: Very drinkable. I had no problem finishing the bomber in short order, and the 7% abv goes unnoticed.

 530 characters

Photo of chaz01
3.99/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle courtesy of trade from mobz24, poured into a snifter glass.

A: Clear golden color with frothy head.

S: Very aromatic -- citrusy, tropical fruit flavors come through, especially pineapple, mango and grapefruit.

T: Mainly grapefruit and more tropical fruit flavors in the taste. A bit of sweetness to start off, but then comes hoppy bitterness taste that mixes citrus, tropical fruits, piney and grassy notes and some resinous flavors. Mainly citrus and grapefruit in the finish.

M: Light and crisp mouthfeel, good carbonation. Very long dry finish that leaves a resinous grapefruit flavor tingling in the mouth.

D: Very drinkable and enojoyable beer worth seeking out.

 689 characters

Photo of pgaveau
3.92/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bit frustrating that there is no bottle date for a rather expensive IPA. The appearance is a dense orange with a nice frothy head. The smell is intoxicating. Strong citrus and floral notes. This can't be fresh because it tastes like rotten grapefruit. A little more bitter than the average IPA. Very little after taste. Drinkability is surprisingly still high considering it isn't fresh. I will have to review this again with a fresh bottle.

 443 characters

Photo of oreo
4.54/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into snifter.

With no bottle date I have no idea how old this is. Newer label though.

Pours a straw/orange color with one finger head.

Smells awesome. Grapefruit pine and tons of citrus. Reminds me of pliny.

Tastes a bit musty to begin, but rounds out with some really pronounced citrus flavors with hints of honey. A little sweet and a bit thin.

Very drinkable! Leaves a little harshness In the throat but a good drinker.

 452 characters

Photo of rand
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12 oz bottle to pint glass

A: Pours a light yellow-orange with an opaque chilled-haze and a fluffy, one-inch head. The beer looks dense for 7% ABV. Plenty of sticky lacing as the carbonation and head form tiny bubbles, adding to the beer's viscous appearance.

S: A big rush of piny-citrus hops. Really citrusy, grapefruits and lemons, resulting in a fresh and clean aroma. Some bready malts linger in the backdrop that remind me of unbaked pastry dough. Unique and inviting bouquet.

T: The taste follows the nose with crisp, bitter hops up front. The citrus elements lean more lemony and light and make the beer taste amazingly fresh. Lightly sweetened bread balance out the hoppy front, but a dry hop twang carries through to the finish. Notes of buttered-bread crust become prevalent as the beer warms, along with an edge of leafy, earthy tea. Always finishes clean and slightly bitter.

M: Quite dense and oily-slick for the ABV. Carbonation is perfect, little residue is left after each sip.

Drinkablity: One of the more drinkable IPA's you'll come across. Plenty of big flavors here to please any hophead, but I'm yet to see a bitter-Sculpin face on anyone that's tried this. This is well-crafted and well-balanced, will be gone before you know it.

Notes: Ahhh, I finally got to try the new six-packs. Just picked a couple up last week and now they're all over San Diego. One of the best single IPA's in existence, would love to see this readily available year-round.

 1,483 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 JizackFH
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - This beer pours a nice golden orange color, that has a good clarity to it. It also has a nice 2-finger white head on it, that left specs of lacing behind as it slowly fell. This is a great looking beer.

S - It smells of citrus and tropical fruits up front. There is also a very nice piney hop aroma, as well as some sweet light malts. This beer smells like paradise.

T - The taste follows the nose well. There is citrus, tropical fruit notes, and a nice bitter hop presence. This is a very well balanced beer. The finish is very clean, it has a bit of hop bitterness and some citrus notes that linger.

M - This has a medium body and moderate carbonation. It is very smooth and well balanced. There is also a nice creaminess to it. It's very refreshing, and leaves you wanting more with each sip.

D - The drinkability here is awesome. This is a very solid IPA. I have a hard time setting this one down, I just want to keep on drinking it. I really think this one lived up to all the hype. It is an Awesome IPa and I would love to drink it again.

 1,052 characters

Photo of bbb099
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Shared with mjyoung.

A - Clear, yellow amber color. Half finger, pure white head with good retention.

S - Fragrant piney and herbal hop aroma. Smells incredibly fresh and inviting.

T - Solid, savory, bitter hop flavor that hits you from the first sip. Hints of apricot as it goes down and a clean, dry finish with little aftertaste. I also detected zero presence of alcohol, which is a big plus.

M - Light to medium bodied. Carbonation is a little on the light side.

D - A well-balanced, palatable beer. Goes along great with a big dinner.

 568 characters

Photo of Urbancaver
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very solid example of an IPA and my favourite of the lineup at an IPA tasting in October. Great pour with frothy head. Clean clear and crisp. Smells like hoppy goodness with some citrus and just a hint of malt. Tastes like a balanced hop profile between a few types of hopes... some citrus, floral hints, very good. A bit bitter on the back of my tongue but overall very drinkable

 382 characters

Photo of jchow79
4.21/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a 22 oz bomber. This bottle did not say limited release so I assumed it was fresher.

The aroma seemed faint vs most of the reviews I've seen. I can only assume that this bottle wasn't the freshest around.

But I was told by my bottle shop that this was one of the newest offerings they received so I went along with them. I generally trust them.

The taste was fantastic. It picked up mango and citrus. The Head was white as powdery snow.

I want to revisit this with a full review after acquiring a fresh bottle.

 521 characters

Photo of bsp77
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into tall glass.

Appearance: Hazy honey gold with large stark white head and pretty lacing.

Smell: Very tropical and hoppy, with mango, grapefruit, lemon and a herbal spiciness. Milder than expected aroma but very nice.

Taste: Very hoppy and tropical, with mango, pineapple, grapefruit, peach and lemon. Some spicy kick at the finish with mild to moderate bitterness. Some sweetness that balances the beer quite nicely, but I can't tell if it is from the malts or the hops.

Feel: Moderate carbonation with a very creamy body and an exceptionally dry finish. This feels like a great Double IPA.

Drinkability: If I didn't know this was only 7% abv, I would have thought this was a Double IPA, both in terms of mouthfeel and taste. That is an impressive feat. The only downside to this beer (and I do not let this impact the score) is the very high price tag.

 880 characters

Photo of charlesbyrd
4.64/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a footed glass. No freshness date on the bottle.

A: Pours relatively clear and bright amber in color. The head is soapy, white, and voluminous. Noticeable carbonation rises through the glass throughout the session. It looks slightly lighter and cleaner than I was expecting.

S: Huge hop aroma greets the nose immediately. Mostly floral with subtle notes of pine resin and bitter fruit. No real malt character to be found. The smell is truly explosive out of the glass and attacks the nose.

T: Again, hops are obviously the star in this brew. Quite bitter up front, with a cool herbal character that stands up to the hop bitterness. Not as much of a fruit character as, say, Two Hearted, this beer seems to be more about showcasing crisp, pungent hop flavor.

M: This beer covers the whole palate nicely with a solid medium body and great level of carbonation. The bitterness at the end fades into a minty cooling sensation, followed by a nice alcohol burn down the throat.

D: This beer seems to be made to fit any occasion. It's extremely crisp and refreshing, yet excitingly complex. This is right up there with the best IPAs I've tried.

 1,175 characters

Photo of psiweaver
3.6/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Cloudy and an orangeish yellowish color and a soft slightly off white head.

Very floral and fruit based smell but not quite as hoppy or fruity as i would prefer.

average middle of the pack IPA taste. hoppy but without much fruit or floral taste that was present in the nose present in the glass. Not nearly as balanced as i would prefer.

good mouthfeel though not as balanced or integrated alchohol as the best in this style

pretty easy to drink but not something i would really seek out especially at its price point compared to what else is avaliable.

 590 characters

Photo of phishgator
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a bomber into an imperial pint glass. The color is a hazy orange hue with a large white lacy head. The head dissipates after a few minutes. The smell is centential hops through and through. The taste is floral, bitter, rose hips and a bit citrusy. The body is a medium and good carbonation throughout. I would drink this every week and now that it is available I probably will. This is very similar to my other two favorites (Two-hearted and Stone IPA).

 465 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,713 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

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.