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: 2,427 | Ratings: 13,416
Photo of Jeffo
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

One of the more celebrated IPAs on the market. A big shout goes out to Mulder1010 and STEG for hooking me up with bottles of this stuff. Cheers!

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a three finger, medium-thick, off-white head with great retention. Cloudy gamboge orange in color with zero carbonation evident. Head eventually fades to a thin wisp with lots of lacing sticking to the glass. A thin film remains and leaves touches of lacing all the way down.

SMELL: Pale malts, melon, and lots of citrus and grapefruit notes. Lemon and honeydew melon as well. Very fruity. Slight notes of floral hops in the background, but this is much more about the citrus and fruity aromas.

TASTE: Pale malts, melon, and some floral hops up front. Honeydew melon and lots of citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit, though not overly bitter. A hoppy, citrusy, and bitter grapefruit aftertaste is bolder and longer lasting for an IPA. Tasty stuff with plenty of bold flavors.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Lighter on the palate, but still creamy and smooth. Goes down smooth and finishes quite dry on the palate. Not as oily a finish as some, but still works well.

OVERALL: A great IPA for sure, and well worth the praise it gets. Lots of good flavors and quite bold for the style. Almost like a DIPA in that regard. The palate could be a little fuller and oilier perhaps, but that is a minor critique of what was otherwise a very enjoyable and drinkable, hoppy brew. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the style. Thanks again for the trades gents.

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Photo of donniecuffs
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this several times, but recently decided to get the pen out and do this beer some justice. Picked up a bottle from Boonton Liquor Outlet in Boonton, NJ.

Into a stemmed Stone IPA glass, it poured a cloudy gold with 2 fingers of white head, little visible carbonation, and great head retention and lacing. Smelled of grapefruit peel, lime, apple, and menthol. The taste was very nicely balanced; apple, grapefruit, menthol, and a slight grassy character dissolving to a bitter peel finish with slight dryness, and a good lingering but not overpowering bitter aftertaste. Very modestly carbonated and smooth, with the head retention aiding a slightly creamy feel. If I had to pick something to improve upon, it would be the finish, which didn't seem dry enough to match the flavor nuances, but that notwithstanding, this is an excellent beer.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split 22 ounce bottle with my buddy Griff, who brought it over to my place for some sampling yesterday. Review done from notes. Bottle was poured into my Kona Brewing shaker glass.

A: Hazy golden color with a nice thick white head on top.

S: The nose on this beer is addicting. It has a delightfully full (but not overpowering) smell of apricots, citrus, and hops.

T: The taste follows the nose. This beer is unlike any other IPA I've ever had. It's unique in that it's "hoppy", yet it just has so many delicate flavors balancing out over it's hop profile. It doesn't just punch you in the face with grapefruit and bitterness like a Stone Ruination. It's a unique balance of apricots, mangos, citrus, and even a little grapefruit from the hop oils. For me, the taste of apricot is prominant, but not "dominant". Nothing dominates here. Different hop flavors fade in and out, but nothing overwhelms.

M: Light and creamy in the mouth, and leaves a moderate amount of hop oils on the tongue with the finish.

D: Extremely high. I could easily drink this all night.

[EDIT]: I had to edit this beer on 1-11-2011 and dock it a few points for Taste and Drinkability, as since this review I have found this beer to be probably the most hit-and-miss IPA I've ever come across. With no freshness date on the bottle, I can't conclude that it's merely a freshness issue. In fact, I've had experiences at bars with fresh kegs that I still haven't been impressed with. So I am choosing to drop drinkability from a 5 to a 4. Sometimes this beer is so great it's nearly a religious experience, but equally often this beer disappoints me, and shows itself to be anything but exceptional. When "good", this is an extremely unique IPA, but there are other IPAs out there that are able to deliver with a far higher batting average than this one has.

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Photo of DPFRD
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Golden Hued with a Medium head.

S- Citrus hops all over, incredible!

T- Dry, slight malt presence, aggressive hop array exerts itself onto you. So crisp and pristine, it leaves you wanting more, like these hops are heroin.

M- Light bodied with the proper amount of carbonation to tantalize your tongue.

D- Really, you can't beat this beer. Just so good, so hoppy, but light enough you know you can pound them all night. My favorite single IPA hands down. Westcoast, I love you.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pale honey

S - Loaded with hops. Grapefruit, sweet citrus.

T - Crisp hop flavor, herbal and mildly piney. Touch of citrus mid profile. Finishes with a dry hoppy bitterness.

M - Nice body. Finishes dry.

O - To hoppy to drink regularly, but a treat while you've got it.

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

This is truly a great IPA. Breweries around the country are all trying to create a tastely, high quality IPA but all are coming up short of Sculpin. The color is a wonderfully solid and has a great luster. Aroma is all big, sticky, icky, piney, citrusy and rainy hops. Taste is an exceptionally good combination of hops and malt (but mostly hops thank goodness). Taste is more on the bitter/piney side than the malty side. Mouthfeel is very crisp and clean. I could get used to this.

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Photo of pburland23
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a standard pint glass.

Beer pours a hazy, golden orange with about a finger of white head that lingered for a long time.

This beer smells great. At first, I picked up on piney, crisp hops notes but while taking a deef whiff, I picked up some orange, lemon and maybe a little mango. Regardless, Sculpin provides a melange of enjoyable citrus notes.

The taste is also dominated by intense citrus flavors and clean hops bitterness. I got a lot of grapefruit flavor up front in each sip which was balanced out by a bitter, but not overpowering finish.

The mouthfeel is light bodied for an IPA, but still enjoyable though. Sculpin is a touch oily, but still remarkably smooth.

What a great well balanced IPA. I'm not willing to crown Sculpin as the best American IPA available, but it should be involved in the conversation. It's a well rounded and incredibly flavorful IPA. I wish I could find it in the Philadelphia area more often

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Photo of Abrengle
4.29/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Double/Imperial with a bountiful of hops and nice citrus notes that leave a deceivingly low alcohol presence on the finish. Sporadically hard to find with unreliable distribution. It seems to ebb and flow through inventory at local stores in the Phoenix market. One of my favorite limited/rotating release finds from Ballast Point in 2010!

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Photo of rka758
4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into SA perfect pint.
Received as part of birthday.

A: Pours the color of honey with a nice and thick one finger head.
S: Nothing over powering. Nice hop, citrus and fresh cut grass aroma.
T: A good full-bodied taste. Hops start subtle and build-up.
M: Crisp and clean.
D: Doesn't dissapoint. I think I'll have another.

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Photo of loren01
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy orange color, nice frothy white head with good lacing down the glass.
S: Nice malt up front, citrusy hops mostly though
T: Nicely balanced IPA, good malt backbone followed by resiny tangerine like hop flavor
M: Resiny and sticky but goes down pretty smooth. Medium bodied
D: This is a great beer...very drinkable. Reminds me a lot of Hair of the dog blue dot. Would buy this one again for sure.

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Photo of number1bum
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazed tangerine color with a creamy and pretty dense two fingers of beige head. Keeps a pretty full and ample lace with a nice amount of coating on the sides of the glass.

Smell is very pithy and resiny, with lots of grapefruit peel and orange. Has a zesty lemony quality to it as well; just extremely citrusy. Has a floral tropicy fruitiness to it as well. It's also very resiny, dank and bitter smelling. Very hop forward, with some sweetness behind.

Taste is also very citrusy, with a load of grapefruit in particular. It's not super juicy, more pithy and bitter, with some lemon as well. Very little sweetness as the hops are really the entire show here. Hops have a spicy quality to them as well, with a long, bitter finish. I don't get some of the tropical fruit flavors that the nose had, and overall I just don't get as much fruitiness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a pretty good slickness and a very bitter, dry finish. Carbonation is good; quite dry.

I think Sculpin is very good but not great. I wish for more fruity flavor, because although I love the bitter grapefruit peel flavor I like it even better with some juicy sweetness to go with it. The nose had more, the taste not much at all. A very bitter, hop forward IPA, which is certainly plenty pleasing to this palate.

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Photo of nniicckkww
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. The night before I sampled this just lightly chilled. It was quite good. However, tonight's sample had been thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator overnight. Slight chill haze and yummy head with excellent retention. Grapefruit and piney nose was enticing. I even got more grapefruit and yummy citrus hoppiness when it was chilled further! Excellent brew. I recommend it cold. Exceedingly refreshing also despite the abv! I want another!

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a shaker

This beer pours a clear yellow with darker yellow tints in the middle. Good head. This is a very citric beer with lots of fruits in the nose and taste. I picked up mango, orange, tangerine and some grapefruit. The bitterness of the hops is definitely noticeable and very well balanced. I thought the beer was a little over-carbonated as it was very fizzy in the mouth and made the beer taste a little thin. Overall, solid beer but I think still lags a bit behind some other single American IPAs.

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Photo of beersensei305
4.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Active review:

The appearance is nice although I perfer my IPAs to be dark in color.... this one is a hazy apricot with an amazing pearl white head thats foamy and has great retention. Great aromatics, one of the best very pugent. Huge citrus smell like cutting into a grapefruit orange and lemon all at the same time. you have the scent of hops and honey too, a little black pepperish as well. A little light on flavor but I am a double IPA fanatic, but this is a tart beer but not overally tart. Very hoppy in the front Citrusy and tangy. For an IPA this beer is a little on the light side and juciy, but it has a nice lingering dryness and bitterness at the back of your throat.

Truely a great beer, Don't try the Big Eye IPA it is a let down. This one is one of my favorites. A masterpiece Well done! Just how I would imagine sex with Jenna Jameson would be, if it were a drink.

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Photo of StormKing47
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One of my absolute favorite IPAs brewed today. Finally a 12oz bottle, big thanks to petesuphi. Shared with him. A true hommage to the Goddess Ninkasi, herself.

A- Spectacular clear amber with a golden/yellowish hue. Simply an amazing ambiance created by the wonderful glow of this masterpiece. It really is absolute beauty, the clear amber glow and the thin, bright white head with a copious amount of bubbles rising to the top make this one absolutely divine. Do I even want to drink this one? It's too appealing for the faint of heart.

S- Holy floral hops Batman! I am greeted with a bouquet of citrus and grapefruit aromas that have entranced me. Am I in heaven? This beer is simply spectacular smelling, I would love it if I woke up everyday and smelled like this beer does. Does Ballast Point make soap or shampoos? As it warms the citrus and grapefruit aromas continue to bombard the senses and I am picking up a few more aromas: pine, apricots and a touch of creamy caramel goodness. I can't believe that a beer can smell this incredible and be readily available. Do I even dare drink this piece of art?

T- Simply put it's unbelievable. The balance of citrus and grapefruit with a touch of piney bitterness is wonderful. Is this even legal to taste this good? This beers is crazy delicious and as it warms up it reveals an amazing balance of the meticulously crafted hop profile with a well balanced malt bill. The hops are perfect and the little caramel touch of sweetness at the end puts this one over the top. A must try if you love hops. The abv burn that some ipas and dipas can develop as they warm is not detectable which leads me to believe that this is a masterpiece in liquid form. The Goddess Ninkasi would be more than pleased with this one. BOOM!

M- Smooth as silk with no abv burn, which is always welcome, but could lead to trouble. I'm convinced that it is not legal to create such a beverage. The subtle stickiness of the hops, the lively, but not over abundance of carb and the softness of this one are a home run. I am glad this is year round now and no longer limited availability.

D- Let me think???? Your God Damn right. Seriously off the charts to an almost troublesome level. I would drink this anytime, anyplace, all the time. It's happiness in liquid form. Thank you Ballast Point.

Simply a spectacular and in my opinion THE best single ipa on the planet. Doesn't matter if it's tap, 12oz, 22oz or firkin it doesn't get much better than this one.

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Photo of paulys55
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally got around to trying this gem. Shared a few with my brother. Bomber poured into Duvel tulip. Two fingers of pillowy head sit on top of a beautiful orange, golden body. Smell is floral and citrus leaning on the citrus. As I let this fish swim on my tongue, the pineapples, peaches and citrus goodness fills my mouth and goes down clean leaving nice sticky lacing on my glass. Dangerously drinkable and just solid all around.

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Photo of Brew33
4.19/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first Sculpin! I've been wanting to try this beer for some time, glad I was able to score a couple bombers.

The appearance is fine, nothing special. The aroma is damn good. It's insanely tropical. Big, juicy, tropical fruits. Those mangoes and oranges don't translate all that much in the flavor. A very light malt profile (which I prefer in IPA's) and a pronounced bitterness start you off. The flavor is very crisp, and you get very little lingering bitterness. It's so clean! Medium bodied. I'd like a little more "sticky" but it was good. The drinkability is high. No sign of the abv and it finishes so clean.

Probably a Top 10 IPA for me.

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Photo of blackie
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: shaker pint, golden amber in color, served with a creamy layer of carbonation that retains well

s: fresh, vivid hop aromas of citrus oils and deep tropical fruits on a nice clean malt base, lightly sweet, pungent, great hop profile pushed to the front

m: lively carbonation, smooth but functioning well to spread the flavors around, body ranging light to medium

t: lots of hoppy citrus, grapefruit, passionfruit, pale malt body with a light caramel sweetness, favoring juicy hops over malt depth, satisfyingly bitter - but not gratuitously so

d: it's not the hoppy revelation that I might have expected, but it's a top tier ipa by my standards, easily drinkable

draft at Galaxy Hut

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Photo of surlytheduff
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz bottle into oversized tulip. Beer was bright golden orange, with a little bit of haze. The aggressive pour created a smokestack of light creamy head, which took a good while to recede. The nose was aroma rich - predominantly grapefruit/tropical fruit, with a little bit of pineyness behind it.

Taste was great. Initially there was bitterness - like a bite from a pink grapefruit, but it didn't take long for that to fade into sweeter fruitiness with a resinous pine finish. The beer was medium bodied, well carbonated and magically delicious.

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Photo of Estocker
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into my 30th anniversary taster tulip.

The nose on this beer is unmatched by anything I've ever come across. There is an intense bouquet of citrus, a slight floral aroma, and a hint of pine. The grapefruit takes over the nose and leaves me excited to try the first sip.

After my first sip, I am slightly disappointed, but not because it isn't delicious, the nose just leaves so much to be desired that I can't imagine that anything could live up to it. This is my 2nd favorite (i)IPA to date, and I give it props for competing so well with PtE. The taste is phenomenal and if you're in the mood for a tasty yet not-overpowering citrus bomb I can't believe anything could be better.

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Photo of jbowers56
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to Mulder1010 for the hookup.

What a great looking beverage. Huge just off white head that slowly dissapates. A wonderful sliiightly hazy golden colour.

The nose is superb. Pine, grapefruit, some citrus zest, sherbert and some caramel. Jumps out at you as soon as you pop the top.

Great flavours. All that citrus is there. A little less of the sherberty flavours and maybe a touch more pine. The caramel is there to balance out the substantial bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full, and moderately carbonated. A really great IPA.

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Photo of decafron
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured in my favorite pizza port pint glass.

a - pours a lovely light copper with amazing thick lacing that sticks around. not too carbonated but right where i like my ipa's.

s - pine cone, mango, pineapple, grapefruit and lemon zest are all there. this is what i guess heaven will smell like if there is one.

t - the balance of hops is amazing. a big blast that cascades to an elegant bitterness in the finish.

m - creamy and light without the cloying bitterness that one finds in so many west coast ipa's.

d - i could easily drink sculpin all night long. my favorite aipa next to nelson and blind pig.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.67/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A new 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

I've been holding off on reviewing a bottle of this until I had what I considered to be a sufficiently fresh bottle in hand. The 22s I've picked up in PA have always been good, but lacked the "magic" of a fresh keg. I just picked up a 6 pack of the new black label bottles so I figured this was as fresh as I'll find a bottle at retail around here. These bottles didn't disappoint with the freshest, hoppiest tasting iteration I've ever had of this not on tap. Aroma is ripe with pine and tropical fruits, while the flavor follows through with a thick, soft body and balanced sweet and bitter pineapple and grapefruit hop attack. Fresh, this is my favorite AIPA, and this sample didn't disappoint.

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Photo of klkatz
3.99/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

served from a 22-oz bottle into a pint glass... moments before the Eagles/Texans game. Go Birds!

smell - YES! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout... that's the smell an American Style IPA should have... hops, floral, grapefruit... all this before pouring the bottle... it explodes out of the bottle like an anxious genie. (I give it a 5)

Appearance - looks crisp... honey in color... transparent, like apple juice. Thick white head... like my college baseball coach, Ace Brogna. He had a thick head of white hair. (4)

Taste - Bitter. You want bitter? You can't handle bitter. After the first sip I think: "t's a good tasting beer, but I think I've had better." Second sip: Nutty flavor? still crisp like expected and bitter.... could be balanced better.

The mouthfeel is strong. It sticks with you, until your next sip.

Drinkability - I'm not going wild over it... it's going down, but not as smooth as I'd like. Maybe it's a summer beer... it's 34 degrees in Philadelphia tonight... maybe I should have a porter.

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Photo of cadaugherty
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Generous extra courtesy of petecz, thanks man.

Served in my Great Divide IPA glass.

Appearance- Almost a copper/gold color with a lovely rich head off of a slightly aggressive pour. Great carbonation running out of the bottom.

Aroma- You guessed it, Citrus. I smell nothing but grapefruit, for me this is a big plus.

Taste- Great hop profile in the taste and wonderful bitter bite at the end. If there was a little more malt backbone this would be a 5 but there we are.

Mouthfeel- not to thick, not to thin. Good carbonation feel.

Drink- For a very hop forward IPA this is a remarkably drinkable beer. Best of all it doesn't leave a film your mouth the way some IPAs tend to.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,416 ratings.
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