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Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 2,437 | Ratings: 13,466
Photo of Sammy
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With great appreciation to Torchednoodle, for this tasty excellent IPA. Orange appearance with white head. Grapefruit aroma, very nice.Very smooth, very drinkable. Great resiny hop. One of the best IPAs I ever had, and the bottle picture is cute too.

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Photo of acurtis
4.09/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ballast Point Sculpin, 22oz bomber picked up at Liquor Outlet Wine Cellar. Pours beautiful hazy orange color with large white head in shaker. Head sticks to glass nicely. Great aroma of grapefruit and hops. Super citrus flavor, clean malt base. Light, smooth and silky. Very drinkable, this is a superb brew. I was worried that the bottle may not be fresh but that was put to rest the moment I open the bottle and poured it. It smelled excellent before I could even get my nose near the glass.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.62/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very different beer in the bottle than when on tap!

Pours a honey yellow with firm white head. Huge very ripe and sweet pineapple nose. Huge and very appealing.

Mouth is full and medium rich; somewhat bold although does not have the bright character whatsoever of this beer on tap.

Flavors are bitter pine and pine resin with some grapefruit skin, not the bright bitter charachter when on tap.

Appealing but not nearly as bright and inviting as this one on draft. Draft and bottle are two very different beers for this one, draft being far more inviting and far more appealing. This draft rivals any "big hop brew" I've tried. In the bottle, it's good but that's about it-not outstanding as it is on draft. Bottle was actually quite disappointing after trying this on draft. EDIT 08/31/10 - the new batch with the first "new" label is wonderfully drinkable and appealing. Review stands as written and yes, tap is still better. But Ballast Point is able to make a wonderfully fresh and crisp hoppy beer and still make it creamy and mouthfilling. A wonderful drink. End Edit

Finish is grapefruit skin and lemon oil that goes to pine and resin.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Father's Office in Culver City, CA.

A - Pours a clear honey color with a 1/2 inch head that fades to a very small cap. There were rings of lacing going down the glass on this beer.

S - Smells of delicious citrusy hops and summery peaches and mangoes.

T - Bitter citrus zest/peel with a peach/mango aftertaste.

M - Good carbonation and the hops leave an oily coating in the mouth.

D - Very solid and very tasty IPA. I will look for more of this one for sure.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Single finger head with nice lacing on a amber gold clear body. Very nice sweet aroma with mostly grapefruit and pineapple notes. Flavor is very different with mostly a dry, pine and musty hop taste. Moderate to high carbonation and medium body. Overall a very good IPA

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Finally, at long last, I got the chance to enjoy a sculpin. actually, I enjoyed three of them! the setting was the strip house steak joint in the planet Hollywood casino in las vegas, Nevada. I sat down with my hockey teammates, who all ordered a fancy cabernet, but I asked to glance at the beer list, and there it was, sculpin ipa. it poured a beautiful cloudy grassy pale golden color, with an inch or so of off white head that lasts forever, leaves excellent lacing, and is easily reinvigorated with a swirl the wine glass I asked the server to bring me. the nose on it is long and hoppy, but not in that dank oily sweet fruity way that some of these are, but more subtle, not more simple, but more in focus, more sure of its identity. there are notes of fresh pineapple and spruce, but this is neither bitter nor sweet. its got an impressive degree of malt balance, as well as a yeast character that reminds me of some of the European ipa offerings. the flavor is standalone. its got a gorgeous hop bouquet, with some floral notes in there too, but I cannot quite place any of the specific varietals. less citrus and more pine than I expected, and a forever finish that's both refreshing and filling to a degree. the alcohol is impossible to pick out. feel is also lovely, with effervescently bright carbonation that tickles the tongue without being invasive, and a medium body that doesn't stand in the way of the flavor. this was the absolutely perfect complement to a 20 ounce bone in ribeye, dry aged, rare. I had three of these with my steak, and would have had more if they weren't 12 bucks a go. what a glorious ipa this is, distinct from the crowd, and worth every word of the hype. really sensational brew.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm to the point now that if I see this at my local beer store I just buy as many as I can. This IPA is well worth the $2.75 a bottle I get it for. Sculpin pours out as a pleasing golden color with a nice soapy looking white head. The head settles and leave a white bubbly film over the beer that leaves a pretty damn good lacing down the glass. The smell of this beer is very inviting. It's got hops in there along with Grapefruit, lemon, orange, and a faint aroma of peach. The taste is very good as well it's gives off a really nice sweetness upfront followed but a cotton mouth bitter dryness in the back end. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation to it. Overall it's a very pleasing IPA, once of the best that isn't an Imperial in my opinion. The more you have the better they get. I really hope Ballest Point never pulls out of PA.

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Photo of metter98
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy and golden yellow in color. It poured with a large white head that slowly faded away, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface. A very light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There are moderate aromas of citrus and pine resin hops in the nose. Notes of grapefruit stand out in particular.
T: The overall taste is very flavorful and well balanced; there is a medium amount of bitterness from the hops but this is nicely balanced by the underlying malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: The beer is highly drinkable; there's a strong amount of hop flavors but the bitterness is balanced by the malts and doesn't slow you down in finishing your glass.

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

From bottle (June 21, 09)
On tap at GABF Weekend '08

Holy crap, this is a seriously good beer! A total surprise to me that this relatively unknown beer to be would be a standout among standouts. The hoppy-grapefruit character is everywhere and packs a whollop of citrus bitterness and flavor. Nearly resin-y with Cascades and other American varieties. The hops are very bold in the taste, but rediculously mouthwatering in the aroma. The malt profile flies under the radar and gives a dry, very well attenuated maltiness and with a grahm-cracker crispness. Malt flavors seem to be a 2-row / 6-row traditional balance where the grain flavors accentuate the hop bitterness. Quite fruity for an American IPA with light peaches, appricots, and oranges. If the style is supposed to be hop-forward, then this beer deserves its high rating.

Thanks RyanC84

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Perfectly clear pale amber with a dense frothy head that leaves behind thick sheets of lace. Can't really get any better here.

Smell: Fresh fruit and oily hops; grapefruit and mango with a touch of pine. Malts are subtle and don't get in the way of the incredible hop aroma.

Taste & mouthfeel: Similar to the nose, but with an even greater pine and mango presence. Malts are subdued and dry, little more than a foundation for the hops, though they lend a bit of biscuit-like flavor and a hint of honey as the brew warms. So damn crisp and light-bodied, I'd never guess this was 7%. Hop bitterness is perfect; coating but not overwhelming, assertive but not aggressive.

Notes: A nearly perfect IPA, easily ranking in my top 5 of all time for the style.



Newer batches of this beer are significantly less impressive. The tropical fruit aromatics are largely gone, and the hop flavor less intense.

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Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the table with a hazy golden body and a frothy head; retention is good as is the lacing

Smell: Bold grapefruit and floral citrus aromas dominate

Taste: Starts out like a glass of sweet grapefruit juice with a growing pithy bitterness by mid-palate; the grapefruit flavor is unrelenting after the swallow, buttressed by the really clean pale malt

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied (a touch syrupy) with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Refreshingly drinkable, this is a great example of an IPA in the mold of what a lot of the San Diego breweries are producing (and marketing as a San Diego Pale Ale)

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Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, from the Kahala Whole Foods in Honolulu. Sufficiently unattractive representation of the eponymous fish front and center on the label, I gotta say.

This beer pours a clear, medium golden orange hue, with three fingers of roiling, foamy, and bubbly off-white head, which leaves some crooked bonsai tree lace around the glass as it slowly seeps away.

It smells pungently of grapefruit rind, fleshy blood orange, a slight herbal tinge, pine resin, and the faintest hint of bready caramel malt. The taste is big and bitter, blended citrus and pine esters, a slight uptick in things herbal, mild yeasty notes, and a still suppressed bready malt, with zero heat from the purported 7 points of alcohol.

The carbonation is steady, and average, and well, everything you didn't know you wanted in a frothy offering, the body a pleasantly svelte medium weight, and more or less smooth, the hops bypassing this usual interference vector of theirs. It finishes still pretty hoppy, but even more muddled, as the citrus, pine, and herbal factions all unite in plastering my palate with a lingering dose of the ol' bitterness.

A pretty solid west coast IPA, with the extra herbal notes adding a complexity that I sometimes find interesting, and others, not so much. Thankfully here it's the former, so I have to go with the overwhelming majority, and pimp this one straight out, ugly-ass bottom-feeders notwithstanding.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a hazy orangey color ale with a large frothy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus hops with deep caramel malt backbone is quite enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by loads of citrus hops with some floral undertones though no grapefruit notes and a deep and solid caramel malt backbone with balanced sweetness level. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well done with great balance between malt and hops.

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Photo of emerge077
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super fresh bottle courtesy of Weibull...

Poured into a fluted tulip, it's quick to generate a fluffy head of sticky foam. Instant resiny aroma packed with floral/herbal hops and tropical fruit. Color is a light high-clarity orange with tiny rising bubbles. Lacing forms in sudsy sheets, and sticks around for awhile.

Concentrated citrusy hop flavors of pink grapefruit and bitter orange pith. Residual leafiness and a juicy mango aftertaste. Pale malt is relegated to the back of the bus, but provides a slight tip to the balance scale. Moderate and creamy carbonation with the obligatory hop bite to it. Slightly dry in the end with a fairly long finish.

This is a fresh and vibrant west coast IPA, check it out...

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Photo of kojevergas
3.92/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a generic pilsner glass in a friend's gaff in low altitude San Diego, California. Bottle acquired at Ballast Point a few hours ago. Reviewed live. Expectations are high; I had this on draught in Orange, California back in December and it was the best IPA I'd ever had - even though I usually don't like them. I'm hoping the bottle measures up to the draught.

Served refrigerator cold. Side-poured without any extra vigor as no carbonation issues were anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of off-white colour, nice cream, nice thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Colour is a clear copper. No floating yeast particles. Appealing, but not unique or special. Standard for an IPA.

Sm: Hoppy - mainly floral,with some buried bitterness. An orange fruit ester note emerges from the hops; maybe citra was used. A bit dry. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Hoppy but very nicely balanced, with only mild bitterness coming through about the climax and third act. Floral, with hints of fruit like mango and perhaps apricot. Lovely grapefruit citrus zest. Fresh. Pleasant. Enjoyable. Refreshing. Clean bright malts form the foundation. The balance sets it a notch or three above most other IPAs. Lightly creamy. Very well built. I like it.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Some lovely welcome cream helps the mouthfeel complement the flavours. Near perfect thickness. Well done in that it doesn't get in the way of the flavours. The coarseness is adequate to bring out the flavours. Near perfect carbonation.

Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV and style. I quite like this IPA. Refreshing and enjoyable. Really fantastic. Worth the price tag. I do prefer it on draught. I'd definitely have this again. It's pricey, but well worth the money for the quality. I don't think Big Eye comes close to Sculpin. Even at $14-15 a 6 pack, I keep coming back for more.

High B+

08/30/16 impression:


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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got a chance to try this, one of the highest reviews IPAs on the site. I must say.. it lives up to it's billing. One of the most well balanced and flavorful IPAs I've had, satisfies the hophead in me but isn't overly bitter and remains smooth and tasty. Not much can be said that already hasn't been, but if you get a chance to try it you should without any hesitation.

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Photo of zeff80
4.84/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a clear, golden yellow color with a small, white, bubbly head of foam. It left soapy trails of lace.

S - It smelled amazing. Loads of grapefruit, bubblegum, mango and other citrus aromas. It had a slight caramel nose, too.

T - It tasted of sweet citrus flavors with grapefruit and orange peel. It had a nice bitter hop bite and a bitter burnt toast malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and quite sharp. A medium-bodied ale with a smooth finish.

D - This is an amazing IPA. It has all the complexity and depth of an Imperial IPA without an over the top alcohol presence.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was lucky enough to get a bottle of this in California from Freddie over at Beverages 4 Less.

A: Pours a copper orange with white head. Decent amount of lacing as it goes down.

S: Plenty of tropical fruits and citrus; there is a lot going on in the hop bill here.

T: Much along the same lines as the smell, although the hops aren't quite as strong as I was hoping, and I know that this was the freshest batch, so I feel like I was missing something, but it was the first beer of the night for me, so I don't think there was anything interfering.

M: Right in the range for the style, helping it to drink quite well.

D: Very drinkable. This is where it might have helped that the hop bill wasn't too strong in the taste. Good brew all around, and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

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Photo of oline73
3.94/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a mildly cloudy golden/light amber color with two fingers of fluffy white head. A layer of head remains.

Smell: Sweet and fruity hops with a hint of citrus fruit.

Taste: More bitterness and less sweetness compared to the smell. The dominant flavor is a strong citrus peel bitterness. There are hints of fruit(apricot) and herbs as well. There is a mild malt sweetness and a very bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a lot of tingly carbonation. The finish is on the dry side.

Overall: This is a really good IPA, but I don't know that It lives up the the hype. Both times I've had it, it has been from a bottle, so I'll look for it on tap when I get the chance. It's really bitter, but not super interesting other than that. I would have it again.

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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 nickfl
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of white foam on top of a perfectly clear, copper colored body. The head settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace.

S - Sweet, fruity hops with notes of orange and mango as well as a sweaty note in the background. Lots of bready malt and toffee as well.

T - Sweet malt and orange hops up front. Lots of sugary toffee in the middle with pine, orange, and mango hop flavors. The beer finishes with rich, sweet malt and some caramel with lingering mango and orange from the hops.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick, rich, and impeccably well balanced. The fruity hop profile works very well with the malt and provides just enough bitterness to keep it drinkable. Not as pungently hoppy as some other west coast IPAs, but it is round and smooth in a way that you almost never see in this style while also expressing a really excellent hop profile.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.18/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours clear orange from a 12 ounce can yielding a one-inch thick off-white head which leaves rings and spots of lace.

N: Juicy tropicals (mango and kiwi), peaches, floral. Very aromatic.

T: Citrus (tangerine and grapefruit), herbal dankness, caramel bready malt for balance and slight pine.

M: Moderate body and medium carbonation. Dry, sticky, resiny, and bitter finish.

O: A solid all around IPA. The can format is nice and packable/transportable.

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

I've head so much about this gem I've been salivating already since I finally found the bottle yesterday. Must be pretty fresh too. I'll have to pour this baby into my oversized DFH snifter, as with any awesome IPA.

A: Pours an airy decent sized head, little less than a finger. Lots of large bubbles disperse throughout as it slowly fades to a light head covering. It lightly covers the golden pale orange and pretty hazy color that almost mask the myriad of little bubbles rising to the top.

N: Oh yeah, with the crazy noble hops! Lots of pine and some citrus, it's got that similar malty like nose that most crazy ass IPAs have, that almost reminds me of a sweet like crystal malt, but it's actually the hops I believe. I think my nose is cringing from the bitterness itself and I haven't even tasted it yet. Lots of spiciness from the hops and some floral qualities also run deep. I get some juicy fruit (not the gum dammit!) thats almost a musty peach or apricot, but its not. Oh that brings me to my next point, it has that somewhat musty aroma that most fresh crazy hopped IPAs have, but this one is a lot more subtle than most.

T: Oh yeah, I can taste it too huh?! Sorry, still nosing it. Mhhmmmpppfff... Wow bitterness right out front. Lots of noble hops with pine and citrus hit right away, and it fades quickly to a really juicy and fruity hop taste, more ripe peach. A very slight malty taste, but it just flicks you enough to make you notice its there. The bitterness again takes over and really dominates once the juice fades. More musty tropical fruit taste in the center, that transforms into a piney minty taste, that reminds me of that time I ate a bunch of pine cones wrapped in mint leaves. Some hop resin and oil find their way through and tickle your tongue a little.

M: Semi thick with a slight sticky hop oil feel, actually its got a really rich fatty oil quality like an unchill-filtered whisky. Decent carbonation but nothing to brag about in this dep, not that that is bad. Also, slightly spicey hops.

F: Damn! It's bitter. What's the IBUs, some huge number? It almost scrapes the feeling off my tongue, like the crazy sculpin fish on the label. But it is saved by a slight touch of sweetness as its not too dry, and the juicy center really eases that tension. The bitterness leaves a winterfresh mouth feel, like I just used mouthwash, I'm totally serious. I think the crazy piney bitterness lingering along, and added the slight fruit it tricks the taste buds into tasting that.

Final thoughts: Wow, it was just as I anticipated. A crazy hop bomb with little malts, lots of pine, citrus, juicy fruit hops, some spice, and lots of greatness. The thing that did surprise me was the slight minty mouthwash feel. If this wasn't so limited and expensive I'd really use it as mouthwash and it would be so great!

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

Split with ThePeskyDingo

Poured into Sierra Nevada Tulip Pint Glass

Pours almost 1 finger of white thin head. Color is a clear golden orange. A medium level of carbonation bubbles. Head fades down to a thin layer, but leaves some great lace. Nice full walls.

Aroma: Damn this is a fruity ipa. Everything the bottle has listed is here: apricots, peaches, mangoes, and lemon. Big hop aroma: floral and earthy. One of the best smelling ipas I have smelt.

Taste: Very bready initially, then comes all the same fruits that are in the smell. A ton of hop and citrus flavors blend together. Big floral taste all around.

Mouthfeel: Bitter, but a little smooth. A nice bite for an IPA. Medium bodied. Good level of carbonation. Ends with a nice hoppy, only slight dry aftertaste. This is pretty much how an IPA should be for mouthfeel.

Overall, this is a very impressive ipa. Easy drinking and a ton of great fruit flavors. One of my favorite ipas. If I can get more fresh, I probably will. I can see why it is one of the top IPAs.

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

On tap @ the Old Grove Ballast Point location on 3/18/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a fairly clear shiny copper, with a thin covering of bright-white frothy head. This stays rich and creamy for the most part, leaving some thick foamy lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma is just chock full of juicy grapefruit, mango, and pineapple notes (with the emphasis on the grapefruit), floral hops, and spice. Bready caramel malts work with some of the tropical fruits to give the nose a bit of a sweet edge. Just so fresh and hoppy smelling. Mmmm....

The taste is aggressive up front with a firm dose of hops, laying a ton of spice and pine on the roof of the mouth. That succulant blend of tropical fruits and toasted caramel helps drench the mouth with a sticky and juicy blend of sweetness. Just great balance between the two extremes. Spice and resins linger for a good long bit in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a prickly creaminess to it that expands on the palate. This stays very smooth in the mouth overall, laying just the right amount of a sharp prickle on the tongue that really brings the bitterness of the hops out. And did I mention that the ABV is pretty non-existent? Yeah, that's pretty awesome too..

Just a classic American IPA here from Ballast Point, that combine massive but well balanced West Coast hop flavors into a wonderfully smooth and easydrinking package (for the size of it at least!). Just awesome stuff here as usual, that tasted the best that it could here on draft at the source.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,466 ratings.
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