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: 2,464 | Ratings: 13,672
Photo of sfoley333
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle into PP 7th ann. Real Als Fest english pint glass. Poured a golden orange honey color with thick foamy white head. Smell is a mixture of citrus, malt, and floral hop notes. Taste is like eating a grapefruit with a slight grassy bitterness followed by semi sweet malt profile. The alcohol is well masked in the flavors with a crisp mouthfeel and medium to light body. Carbonation was in great balance with the taste retaining a creamy feel. This is one of he best tasting IPA's on the market right now with just the right alcohol level and great balance still with an upfront grapefruit taste.

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Photo of mjn5036
4.82/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I Picked up a bomber of this gem at Julio's the other day. Employee told me that it was no more than three weeks old - awesome. This one was poured into a large Piraat snifter. The pour gives way to a massive four finger bone-white head that mushrooms over the top of the glass. The head slowly, very slowly faded away and leaves behind some of the stickiest amazing looking lacing I have ever seen. Even after a few minutes a moderately sized head remains floating on top. The color is ruby, burnt orange.

The nose on this one is outstanding! A pure citrus and grapefruit bomb. These smells intermingle with a bit of a piney-ness and a really pleasant hop bitterness. Orange, grapefruit and pineapple and other faint fruits. Maybe a faint malty on the backstage. I am not really picking up on more than that- tons of sweet, sweet, citrusy smells and a nice hoppy bitterness. Amazing nose on this thing, simply superb.

The taste is impeccable. Tons of citrus - grapefruit and lemon. A lot of other fresh fruit going on as well; pineapple, mango and peach dominate. Sweet but not cloying, and pretty damn hoppy. As is warms I pick up some nice spicy notes and a decent malty profile that doesn't make this one completely one sided. Everything in this beer tasted incredibly fresh which is great.

The body is light to medium and the alcohol is not really present in the taste, but apparent as I finish the bomber. A nice amount of carbonation adds to the drinkability. My only qualm is the slight oiliness I seem to get off of this. A minute hiccup in its overall score however. This stuff is just insanely drinkable. This is easily the best single IPA I have had to date.

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Photo of Freethyhops
4.97/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle poured into a pint. the guy at the store guaranteed this to be less than a month old.

A- pours a yellowish orange color. quite light colored for an IPA but very similar in color to the ever so popular Pliny. a vigorous pour produced an extreme amount of head with heavy lacing. I don't expect much malt to come in play but the hops look to be in full force.

S- sharp citric acidic hoppiness. a barrage of tropical fruits. orange, lemon, and grapefruit. it is not extremely complex but it's so strong and inviting. it's really exactly what I want from an IPA and honestly probably as good as it gets.

T- perfect mix of bitter citrus and sweetness with a little bit of breadiness coming in from the light malt proflie. very well balanced and smooth all the way through. no taste is overbearing and I can taste that they loaded all the hops they could into the 7% malt profile.

M- very full bodied for an IPA. carbonation is at a pleasant and well integrated level. a bit of stickiness from all the hops, too. again, nothing but flawless in this category.

D- I'd like to see somebody try to take a glass of Sculpin away from me. If I hadn't just dropped $80 dollars on KBS, I would have cleared the Sculpin from shelves of this store. I haven't even had it before but reviews on this site have said it's exceptional and I can not disagree in the least. Pick up as much as you can drink in the near future whenever you see this beer on the shelves

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Photo of dbmernin83
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks a little like an IPA. Tight lacing.
I smell hops. Juicy, citrusy hops.
A little pine, and juicy citrus with hop resin on the back end.
Great carbonation, full in the mouth but light on the swallow.
One of the great west coast IPAs. A hophead must.

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Photo of davexisxrabid
4.69/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured this bad boy into my Bruery tulip. Clear gold color with a decent half inch head, decent retention. A little bit of lacing, but not much.

Aroma of apricot and pine. Very pronounced and pleasant.

Flavor mirrors the aroma almost completely. Had a great balanced flavor between the malt and the hops. Even sweetness to balance out the stinging bitter, earthy hops.

Medium bodied for a DIPA. Not too heavy and the hops don't kick your palate's ass too badly.

Damn good drinkability. Great flavor and the abv isn't too high either, making this a good choice for more than just one round.

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Photo of jimmy82063
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best before date 4/1/12...poured into a tulip glass.

A) Nice holden hue, the pour gives a fluffy white head that retains very well.

S) Primarily grapefruit and mango.

T) Grapefruit and Mango again...get some lemon zest, a little piney resin and some malt for an overall clean finish. Well done!

M) Nicely carbonated no sense of the alcohol at all.

O) Excellent beer, glad to have had fresh.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle dated 3/15/14 (well... dated as the 74th day of 2014). Appearance is nearly perfect - honey-golden liquid with a thick off-white head that leaves lots of lace as it recedes. I wish there were a few more bubbles rising through the liquid, but that's a minor quibble.

Aroma is citrus and pineapple, with a well-balanced caramelly, slightly syrupy malt undertone.

The taste is citrus and pineapple up front, then some resiny, earthy, and piney notes come in, followed by the caramelly malts mid-palate, and they're all well-represented in the finish, which has just the right amount of bitterness to make you want to take another sip. There seems to be less of a malt presence on the tongue than on the nose, so it avoids the syrupy note I got in the nose, which is good news in my book.

Mouthfeel is great for the style - moderate thickness, lots of carbonation, pleasantly dry.

Overall, a really great IPA that gives the perfect amount of tongue-shredding hoppy goodness - not too tame, and not too over-the-top. Definitely a member of the pantheon of IPAs that I will buy again and again.

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

Clear golden color with a nice one finger white head. There are lots of bubbles in this one.
I noticed the aroma as soon as I opened the bottle. Fantastic hop aromas, pine mostly and also detected some caramel notes.
On the first taste I get a subtle hop bitterness which leads the way for the pine. Dark toast and a slight maltiness round out the flavor profile.
This beer is very crisp and clean and you. An feel that on the palate. This sensation gives way to a resinous hop bitterness and a pleasant lingering aftertaste of roast.
Wow! Good stuff! Glad Ballast Point made it to OH. No bottle date but I'm pretty sure it will always be fresh bc I can't see it sitting on shelves for long.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.52/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle

A - Pours a nice hazy copper with a head that lingers and sticks to the side of the glass.

S - Plenty of citrus hops with some pine and lemon for good measure. Big and bold for an IPA.

T - Taste picks up where smell left off. Everything that is in the nose is nicely melded in the taste. Wonderful bitter from the hops with the lemon and citrus to bring it all together.

M - This one is nice and fresh so the hops stay and linger in the mouth afterwards, biting at the sides of the cheeks. Nothing like a good fresh IPA that stays with you for minutes after you take a drink of it.

O - Great IPA and an exceptional job of making all the hops work together and create a great IPA. I could drink plenty of this fresh. But one bottle will have to do.

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Photo of ajmitch4
4.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a friend, Mr. Atwill from Maryland, for sending this to Colorado for me to try. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a yellow-golden color, fairly cloudy and a firm white head.

Smells of very piney hops with a hint of citrus hiding in there. Struggling through the end of a cold right now so I know I'm missing out on more here.

Hop BOMB. Very good presence of piney and grapefruit/citrus hops. Incredibly drinkable for the alcohol and IBUs. Not necessarily a's so smooth going down and the bitterness doesn't linger, only making you need another taste. Balances well with the malt.

Medium-bodied and very smooth. Perfect amount of carbonation.

After the first taste I was thinking this ought to be considered a double or imperial. Regardless, a very solid American IPA from Ballast Point. I'm glad I finally got to try this brew, and it was well worth the wait. Hopefully distro can be sorted out and it will make it to CO soon.

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Photo of Foxtrot
4.82/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you Matt Olesh for acquiring a case of Sculpin. A bomber of this fantastic brew made my week.

Pours a opaque gold with good bubble action. Head was white and slowly disappeared to a light lacing around glass.

The aroma is just fantastic, for a lack of better words that would do this beer justice. Hops, pineapple, grapefruit, orange, lemon, and apricot all abound with reckless abandon making it a pleasure to behold.

...! That was the stunned silence I felt after the first sip realizing how fantastic this beer tastes. Start off with big hops, followed in suit my citrus tangerine, grapefruit, a nice dash of apricot, and lemon zest held loosely together with pale malt and some candied sugar to balance out this monster of a beer. Finish was nice and bitter, and not to residual.

Mouthfeel is a a good medium. Carbonation was superb, but did not take away this beers glory.

Drinkability is sky high. What else can be said.

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Photo of C20Percent
4.53/5  rDev +3.7%
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 BMan1113VR
4.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Have had this many times in bottles, on tap and cask. This review is from my first time having it. In a bottle when it was still a VERY limited release (2008). Pours with a large, rocky, yellow tinged head covering a hazy yellow body. Aroma of apricot, pine, mango and some caramel. Taste is pine bitterness with some exotic fruit. Syrupy with lively bubbles. This stuff is awesome!

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Photo of CuttDeez
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a golden color with tinges of orange in the light. It is clear with carbination running though it. The head on mine was aggresive from an aggresive pour.

S - This is one of the best noses I have found on a beer in a long time! Floral, fruity, crisp, balanced hop. Grapfruit, apricot, mango, lemon, orange in a whirlwind of citrus. A slight pine sweetness rounded off with hop bitterness. It is wonderful just to smell this beer.

T & M & D - All the tropic fruits I mentioned come through on the front end, then it is followed by bitter hop. It is a dry clean mouthfeel at the end.

I think this is a very nice IPA and I think you should pick one up just to smell its glory.


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Photo of RussBecker1
4.66/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served from a bottle to a tulip glass.

A-Very distinct looking. A gorgeous orange and yellow hue that is a good deal cloudier than most single IPA's. The head is not abound, but it is awfully sticky as the one finger sticks to both the beer and the glass itself creating a nice deal of lacing. A truly beautiful beer that if drank outside reflects sunlight in an even more appealing way.

S-Very flowery in comparison to other West Coast IPA's. The hops are very much at the forefront, likewise with a good deal of citrus, but there is almost no bitterness to be found. It is very soft on the nose which hides some of the deeper notes until after the tasting. A very complex nose.

M-A nice deal of crisp carbonation and creamy malt, it feels good on the palate but is nothing too remarkable.

T-One of the most subtly intriguing beers I have ever tasted. The hops are very much there, but as described in the nose, they are extremely flowery and do not blow out your palate. The citrus, mostly grapefruit to begin followed by some orange and lemon, is also very apparent, but this beer is far beyond attempting to pick out each specific flavor. Upon first sip the beer is good but not outstandingly great, then as you keep drinking the flavor profile continue to build upon itself creating a different experience with each and every sip. By the time the 22oz. were gone I would have done anything to get more.

O-One of the most polarizing IPA's in my experience. If given the proper chance to reveal itself it lives up to the hype and then some.

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Photo of Maryobeerian
4.19/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Light honey color, clear but pours out of a 12oz bottle with virtually no head. Nice, effervescent mouth feel without too much fizz. Slight mango, pleasant smell. Taste is smooth. well blended, starting with citrus and then a clean dry finish. No flaws here and very nice but not especially interesting. I would happily drink again but at almost twice the price of some other IPAs I enjoy, will only do so when I am feeling flush.

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Photo of HotDogBikeRide
4.44/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a very small jar like glass. I didn't store the beer upright because I'm an idiot, and I'm kinda concerned it went bad after trying the first one, loving it and noticing such a difference from the second. But I'm going to review the second and update if I get it again or another from the pack jumps out. Edit: the third did.

Pours a straight gold with a thin line of foam, some lacing, smell is a deep floral, orange/citrus zesty hops with a touch of malt. Taste is on point with the smell but is different from many IPA's with the feel - very bright, refreshing, clean, creamy taste. A little bit of hop oil, resiny syrup taste that lingers on the finish. Definitely good, but it runs for pretty expensive at the gas station (who is the only one carrying it around, $14.99). I probably should've taken better care of the 6-er as the first one was tremendously more satisfying and unique. Will have to be back eventually.

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Photo of 0110x011
4.07/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Toronado SD

A - pours a crystal clear straw/gold. Thin white head is nice and tight, with moderate lace.

S - Very fruity. Major citrus and tropical fruit aromas. Huge tangerine. Floral. Some breadyness.

T - Fruity sweetness on the front end, which continues through the middle to the back. The bready, floral aspect comes through in the middle, with a bitter hop bite at the back end. Long, hoppy finish.

M - a bit on the thin side. I like a touch more body in my IPAs. Carbonation is tight. Nice and smooth.

D - hides the abv exceptionally well. Would be quite sessionable if it weren't for the rarity.

A good, solid IPA. Would be one of the best if it weren't so hard to come by. Do yourself a favor. Don't sell your soul to a bottle. Do that for a bottle of Alesmith IPA.

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Photo of tarheels86
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

651mL second bottled batch. Pours a clear, light amber with a two-finger, creamy, off-white head. Good retention and lacing. Okay lacing. Aroma is huge fresh grapefruit, tangerine, peaches and cream ice cream, huge butterscotch, caramel. Taste is fresh, citrusy, wet hops with butterscotch and a massive bitterness permeating throughout. Buttery, creamy on the palate that leaves a sort of oily mouthfeel. Wow. Fully quenching palate. 10/4/2009 9/4/8/5/17=4.3

After multiple samples of this beer on cask, tap, bomber all from Ballast Point itself, I find Sculpin to be inferior to Alpine Duet. This IPA is awesome- that is a fact. The head is massively rocky, leaves massive lace. But its superlative nose of mango peel, peaches, apricots is let down by a mostly voiding body, little butterscotch, very little creamy mouthfeel. More dry, seltzery, bitter. Still excellent, but it seems that Alpine Duet is more consistent with creating that butterscotch and peaches n cream/pineapple ice cream type flavor that Sculpin is just not delivering anymore. A shame.

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Photo of DrewskiWhit
4.77/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A deep orange color. Cloudy. 1/2 finger bubbly white head which hung around. Some lacing

S awesome. Tropical fruit juice. Smells deliciously fresh!

T awesome! Just like it smells. Fresh tropical fruit juices, primarily orange and maybe some passion fruit. Bitter dry aftertaste which hangs around leaving you wanting to take another drink. One of the best tasting ipas ive had.

M very very nice. Moderate carbonation. Some malt here but its just right. Very drinkable and so refreshing.

O excellent beer. Would like to blind taste this, pte, zd & ht. Im only docking it slightly b/c as the beer warmed the citrus flavors seemed to be overtaken a bit by the little malt that was present. Still this beer was delicious.

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Photo of spree92
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Have been hearing about Sculpin for a while now and have finally got the chance to try it. People talk highly of this beer.

I gave it a quick stir so it is a bit hazy pour. Small head but an oily film remains on the surface. The nose is a little weak. The noticeable west coast hops are here, probably cascade, willamette and a couple others. Does have a fresh quality to it. The taste is interesting. Not a bitter as I was anticipating. Nice fruit flavors of citrus and even peach?. A 7% beer, this is very light but is a little acidic. I already have been burping. This is a refreshing IPA and exactly what I wanted after work.

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Photo of LaneMeyer
4.27/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, 1/2 finger of head, dissipates quickly.

A - Golden/red amber, looks syrupy in the glass, slightly hazy (prefer more haze).

S - Pineapple, mango, banana, pine resin, raspberry, and some bready qualities.

T - Pine resin, tropical fruit blend, raspberry, bitterness.

M - Nice carbonation feel, not overly watery, goes down smoootthhh.

O - A very nicely done IPA.

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Photo of arvidkoval
3.96/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- Golden orange

S- Some citrusy grapefruit, kinda sweet. Little bit of pine.

T- Grapefruit bitterness. Hint of some sweet malts.

F- Medium bodied and nicely carbonated.

O- This is really good, but I think it's overhyped. I'm sure this was a game changer when it made its debut, but at this point there are loads of other IPAs I'd rather drink.

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Photo of ASirahSyrah
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

It was hard not to rate this a '5', but considering the fact that I've never rated anything a five on the ground that-that would require some sort of undefined perfection, i had to settle - unwittingly - with 4.75. This beer is phenomenal! I had it at some random sports bar with a mixed crowd and velvet couches, but I was happy to get lost in my active enjoyment of the beer over gorgeous flatscreens showing two super exciting, MAJOR, college football upsets at the bar - it was easy too. Many people have rated this meticulously and eruditiously on the quality of it's various elements, but let me tell you, this beer is all "emotion and feel;" no need to quantify the greatness of this beer.

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Photo of 911CROFT
3.85/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle into a Tulip. Paid £3.50 for a single bottle.

Pours a bright, clear, shiny, golden-orange body with small amounts of sluggish visible carbonation. A thin, one-finger in height, white coloured head fades disappointingly quickly to a patchy film, leaving behind only two or three token splashes of soapy lace.

Big, juicy, citrus hop profiles make up the majority of the nose. Grapefruit flesh and peels undoubtedly dominate, but floral and pine aromas are also noticeable in the background. Gentle agitation reveals sweeter orange notes and hints of light-skinned stone fruit, but only after being allowed to warm. Taste initially follows suit with big, bold, juicy, sweet grapefruit leading upfront, followed by a little orange and a delicate floral profile. Towards the mid-palate, resinous pine flavours build with more intensity than the nose suggested, later combining with grapefruit pith and rind to provide an increasing bitterness towards the finish. Subtly sweet malts come through just enough on the end to keep bitterness in check, taming the 70IBU’s, without deviating from the hop forward structure. In the mouth a light body and low carbonation feel a tad thin, but still crisp and refreshing. Grapefruit and citric peels linger long after the swallow, giving a dry, thirst quenching gentle bitterness and a touch of astringency that quickly encourage another sip.

Overall this is a very good beer. It’s hugely crisp, zesty and refreshing, and at 7% ABV also ridiculously sessionable. It manages to deliver plenty of intense citrusy hop flavour without the over-the-top, unpleasant bitterness I usually associate with the style. If I had better access to it in the UK I could easily see it becoming a fridge staple. Recommended.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,672 ratings.
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