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Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA
13,968 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 13,968 |  Reviews: 2,497
Photo of sweetbrew82
4.79/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle into a snifter; no freshness date needed for this limited release

Huge thanks to my main man Joe for this one!

P: Poured gold from the bottle, and sat a clear orange honey color in the glass. Beautiful cascading effect upon pour that produced a huge, healthy, fluffy white head that showed good retention. Ringed lacing left behind.

A: Wow! What a hop-heads wet dream! These aromatics are about as good as it gets in my book. Huge tidal waves of juicy hops come flooding the nostrils with scents of citrusy tropical fruits. Like apricots, peaches, orange peels, lemons, and mangos. Also, a nice toasted bready malt, and some caramel lies beneath as well.

T: Starts on the sweet side with flavors that pretty much follow the nose. Peaches seem to be most prominent to me, followed by apricots, mangos, and oranges. Caramel is also smeared across the palate in a delicate fashion that just works perfectly. The flavors then seem to shift and become a little more spicy with some lemon bitterness as well. Toasted bready malt is present throughout, but becomes much more pronounced at the tail end. The finish is dry and increasingly bitter to play off of the fruity sweetness from the onset. It's simply mind-numbing how good this is!

M: Medium-light bodied, smooth, sticky, luxurious, and carbonated to perfection.

D: Incredibly good drinkability as far as I'm concerned. The fantastic flavors abrew in this magical elixir just keep you coming back for more.

Notes: Amazing! A mouth-watering hop bomb that starts sweet and ends bitter. I knew I was going to love this from the first whiff, but it somehow managed to eclipse those expectations by far. Another jewel from the good folks at Ballast Point. I know they're hard to get a hold of, but you MUST try this if you can! Highly recommended

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Photo of seanpachefddfa
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance- poured an amber orange with 1/2 inch thick white head. great lacing around the glass

smell- tons of citrus and pine hops sweet caramel malts. very floral.

taste- wow a huge citrus hop bite with some other fruit notes also like apricot and pineapple.

mouthfeel- medium body with good carbonation

drinkability- drinks way to easy for a 7% beer. this is a first class west coast ipa.

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Photo of craytonic
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a nice golden-straw-orange-sun

Smell: Grapefruit, Pineapple, apricot, hops, resin oils, citrus

Taste: Oh so hoppy - grapefruit, orange, apricot, resin, citrus, and hops hops hops. Someone pointed out a hemp and graham cracker element which I agree with, some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A little lighter than I would prefer

Drinkability: Good, drinkable and enjoyable. Not the absolute best IPA in the world but always a solid choice.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.4/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 12/28/2008 (bottle):

Pours a clear golden amber colored body. Big foamy white head, rocky with good lacing. Bubbly. Very piney citrusy aroma, grapefruit. Dry smelling. Watery body, malty taste, some nuttiness. Dry grapefruit aftertaste. Carbonated and drying aftertaste. More hoppy and bitter with only some balancing nutty sweetness. More balanced as it warms up.

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Photo of mcallister
4.37/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First thing you notice is how clear this beer is. A copper color with some reddish hues when light interacton occurs. A small white head thin and whispy in body, little lace except for a blanket here and there.

Great smelling IPA very clean in nature. Great centennial aroma with hints of malt. So floral and fine with only a hint of pine and citrus.

Again not overly complex just clean too the point and delicious. Straight centennial with maybe some other hop addition? Malt balances the hop but shows little character. Perfect amount of carbonation. Piney on the finish oh so floral. An easy perfect scorer for drinkability.

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Photo of ChazMania
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into chilled pint glass. This is a fantastic IPA.

a) Pours very clear with nice froth head.

s) has the citrus aroma in spades.

t) White peach, grapefruit, lemon, honey. I think these beers go from the far "pine" spectrum to the far "citrus" spectrum. This is far on the citrus side.

m) simply glorious.

d) Fantastic and easy to drink, I could have this all day long.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a frothy, two finger thick, pale, tan tinged, off-white colored head. The beer is a clear amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, bright copper hue when held up to the light. The aroma certainly hits the spot for any hop lover with a melange of herbaceous, spicy, fruity, citrusy and yes even dank hop character. Malt, I don't know much about that, though I am sure there might be a hint in the aroma some where, right now I am focusing on the hop aromatics that the malt character is supporting. Vibrant lychee, ripe tangelo peal and bitter grapefruit oil round out the fruity hop aromatics, but in the deep draughts of the aroma it is the herbal hop components that reign. There are turpene rich hop notes, a slight grassy edge, perhaps a hint of chive, but what really jumps out is the essential "hemp" oil components; sticky, dank, resinous, slightly rosemary like, touches of pine tar and a spiciness that almost make my nose itch. Definitely a hop heads beer by the nose.

Lightly sweet up front and then a bracing, richly herbal, bitterness grabs hold of the tongue; this never recedes either as the bitterness lingers on in the palate after the beer has left my mouth. The hop flavors have a fruity, almost oily character that is sensed as a backdrop to the other flavors; tropical fruit, lychee and bitter orange peel. The flavor profile is dominated though by the herbal hop components. Pepper, amply spicy, a touch of sharp rosemary, green turpenes and of course it has a biting, dank, "hemp" oil green flavor to it that lingers on with the bitterness in the finish. This is definitely an aggressively hoppy beer, this can be nice, but somehow this beer seems a bit too one-dimensional, even for a overly hoppy IPA. There is a soft supporting malt character that brings a hint of sweetness as well as a touch of cracker light malt to the flavor, it also supplies a medium'ish body to this brew.

A bit too herbal focused to be great for me; I prefer a nice balance of tropical fruit notes as well as the sticky herbal hop character (the aroma is a bit more balanced than the flavor, though still not quite enough). Still this certainly has appeased my hop fix for the evening.

Purchased: South Bay Drugs, Imperial Beach CA

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Photo of Silenus89
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber to a pint glass

A. Poured a Bright clear orange with small head

S. The smell is truly amazing, best smelling Ipa Ive had. So fruity, apricots, mango, lemon. Then of course the citrus and grapefruit notes

T. So crisp! The bitterness is perfect as well. Apricots and pine then a nice little alcohol kick.

M. Medium to light carbonation

D. I love this beer! Its a session able Ipa for me at 7%. Im glad I got more than one, cant wait to have another!

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a barely foggy amber with a thin creme head. Nose is pine resin and slight citric tones. Flavor is that biting acrid salty hops tone. Pine is definitely there. It's biting, but still smooth enough somehow. Feel is typical on liquid and carbonation is even. This is an easy to drink IPA, but it's best judged when you look at it as a San Diego IPA as opposed to an IPA in general. Still, I like it.

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Photo of vacax
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A few cases of Sculpin made it into distribution, picked up a couple bombers for $7 each at BevMo.

A: Golden to pale with large white head that has almost too much retention. Leaves appropriate lacing. Looks a little above-average as far as carbonation goes.

S: PineSol, but I mean that in a good way, honestly. Maybe hints of citrus or other fruitiness. Nose says this is a serious IPA. Nice--bigger nose than many DIPAs.

T: Hops, meet tongue. Grand pine character with hints of citrus and a balancing earthiness. Hop-forward and gigantic for an IPA, but nothing unpleasant here at all. Few regular IPAs can compete on this level of goodness. Could complete well as a DIPA, though clocks in at 7%.

M: I can see it is quite carbonated but it really doesn't come through in the mouthfeel, so it is quite well balanced in that respect. The bubbles and bitterness come together for a flavorful tingle that is quite appealing. Hard to tell on the body, but seems to be in the mid-range.

D: One of the biggest IPAs out there, but at 7% it is also somewhat sessionable. If one can appreciate huge hops, this is a hell of a beer. The only problem in drinkability is the limited availability (which I am not holding against the score, obviously).

Among the best of the style.

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Photo of Packforever1976
4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured chilled into my Surlyfest stein.

A: Pours a medium amber with nice clarity. A fluffy off-white 2 finger head with good retention. Nice sticky lacing.

S: Whoa, those hops hit you right in the nose! Grapefruity bitterness. Having a tough time picking up any malts in the nose.

T: Some bready maltiness up front. Bitter citrus hops in the finish. Some interesting spicyness in the back as well. Rye maybe? Very nice.

M: Nice and creamy. Really nice mouthfeel. A little much on the carbonation, but still ok.

D: Drinks smooth for 7%. Very well balanced, all of the flavors meld well together. A very nice IPA.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.01/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber, love the label,

A: Pours a light amber with a great clarity. Light cap of white foam and good strong lacing. Looks great as the mid-afternoon sun shines through it.

S: Definite tropical fruit - mango, pineapple juice, heavy apricot. Not terribly aromatic, but a nice scent, smells like a fruit salad.

T: Heavy grapefruit pith at first, reminded me a bit of Blind Pig on the first sip. Lemon zest and apricot preserves form the remainder of the complex hop flavour. Malt is light and doesn't get in the way.

M: I really like the mouthfeel in this one. Very soft carbonation allows the hop oils and resin to shine and makes for a very drinkable beer.

D: A very good IPA from Ballast Point. Did it live up to the hype for me - not completely, but it is quite a good beer. The hop complexites in this one give it the potential to be incredible on cask - I hope I can find some, but if there's any it's probably in San Diego. Definitely try this release.

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Photo of MiScusi
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just opened a bottled that was bottled about 6 days ago. Bumping smell from 4.5-->5. I don't know that there is an IPA that smells better than Sculpin. The mouthfeel is right on the mark in terms of dryness, it's not slick and gooey and hard to drink. And the color is exception as a clear orange. Appearance bumped from 4.5 to 5, and mouthfeel bumped from 4.5 to 5. Yep, I gotta give this all 5's because it is THE best IPA being made in the US right now, as far as my experiences have shown.

Bottle just purchased from the 3rd release. Bottle would be less than a week old.

A- Perfectly clear orange. White frothy head builds up leaves nice lacing. Soapy film remains on top of the beer the entire time.

S- citrus fruit hoppiness, mostly orange to me. That's the smell I get when it's in the tulip. However, in my nonic pint I get less citrus and more greenery. Smell is dare I say reminiscent of Pliny the Elder. Only reason I only rate it "good" is because at times I have to search for the smell, it's not as pungent as I think a great IPA should be.

T- There's a lot of citrus type fruitiness and this beer is more similar to Pliny than ANY IPA i've ever had. A medium bitterness lingers on the tongue afterward but it's a pleasant citrusy one.

M- It's full, slick, without being syrupy. It's definitely not watery though (not that I would have too much problem with that). Maybe one of the most full/buttery feeling 7% IPA's I've ever tasted.

D- this beer is in the upper echelon of IPA's I've had. Is it at the top? Probably not, but on any given day it could be. It's just a real solid tasty IPA that nobody who actually likes IPA's could ever feel disappointed with. There's nothing earth shattering to this beer, it's what a good IPA should be.

It didn't occur to me while I was drinking it on tap at the brewery, but now that I sit down with a bottle it just dawned on me how similar in taste (and somewhat in smell) this is to Pliny the Elder. I am definitely going to do a side by side of those two beers to figure out if my memory of a beer I drink semi-regularly is accurate with what I'm tasting in Sculpin right now.

Second bottle consumed at home. Yeah this beer is definitely a big winner. Bumping Smell from 4-->4.5 and the same for mouthfeel.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to d0b for giving me a chance to try one of these. Not sure of the age on this 22 oz bottle, but it's been in the fridge at both his place and mine.

A - Liquid gold. Pours to a one-fingered white head that dissipates quickly into a complex lace. Very transparent with lots of little bubbles rising to the top. I was little surprised it didn't have more head, but perhaps its because I waited too long to open it.

S - Very sweet malt with the hoppy bitterness and citrus smells further back than I expect from an IPA. Very well-balanced aroma that is incredibly inviting. Again, I wonder if the hops would have been more present if I'd opened it earlier. Reminded me of Pliny - which is the ultimate compliment for an IPA.

T - Wow! The hops are still here and are kicking my tastebuds' asses. Strong hop bitterness that dissipates into sweet citrus, malt and caramel. Leaves a little bit of a bitter aftertaste, but not in a bad way. Not uber-complex - but that's something I tend to expect from a DIPA more than a regular IPA.

M - Smooth, creamy, nice balance of carbonation, viscosity, and hop resin stickiness. Not much more I can ask for from this style.

D - I had misgivings about drinking this on my own, but I'm really glad I did. Doesn't feel any stronger than Masala Mama, my benchmark for sessionable IPAs.

Just checked d0b's review - looks like the bottle is from early September, so I'm on the cusp of freshness for an IPA. There's still tons of hop character in the taste and it hasn't gone super-sweet on me. If you're gonna try this one the clock is ticking on this release. I definitely prefer this to Big Eye (which is a pretty solid brew in its own right). Beginning to dread my trip home to Canada - land of weakly hopped IPAs.

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Photo of magictrokini
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tap @ O'Brien's. Pours clear orange-gold with a spongey white head. Great floral hoppy aroma with lemon and oranges. Clean, bold hop taste throughout. Good amount of grapefruit with tangerine, pine without resiny stickiness, and maybe a little pepper. Bittersweet malt in the finish without being overbearing. It has the hop bite and taste of an Imperial, but the body of a regualr IPA. Excellent.

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Photo of hopdog
4.29/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle acquired in trade with WeeHeavySD (thanks!).

Poured a medium to deeper and clear golden color with an larger sized off white head. Aromas of pine, citrus (grapefruits and lemons), and grassy. Nice and hoppy aroma. Tastes of citrus, light caramel, pine, some melons, and a little fruity. Nicely bitter with a light sweetness.

Notes from 3/18/08

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Photo of Sammy
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
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 paco1029384756
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear, light orange color with two fingers of foamy white head.

Scent of grassy and piny hops, mango, grapefruit, citrus, slightly bready malts. Incredible, that's all I can really say, so damn good.

Taste of piny hops, very juicy, strong grapefruit and citrus initially. The bitterness is subdued shortly with some very nice bready malts while still leaving a piny flavor from the hops. Finishes with piny hops and some bready malts.

Mouthfeel is clean and biting, very good, but lacks something, maybe a little more carbonation.

Drinkability is excellent, tied with Blind Pig for the most drinkable IPA I have ever had.

If this were available year round I would likely have a bottle, maybe even a case in my fridge at all times.

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Photo of egajdzis
3.67/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a dark golden color with a medium sized, off white head that left nice lacing on the glass. Aroma of more resiny pine (gotta love San Diego!), citrus fruits, caramel malts, and floral hops. Taste of toffee malts, citrus fruits, light malts, and a dry bitter finish.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.34/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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 AKBelgianBeast
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to HopHead84 for this bounty.

Pours a nice clear light slightly coppery orange with a nice fluffy white head that retains well and leaves good lacing. Carbonation continually roils from the bottom of my SA tulip glass.

Nose pops up with west coast grapefruit hops right away. The slight sweetness of what will be determined to be an ideal malt backbone rises up through the nose. A slight strange sweetness here as well. Kind of a musty dank sweetness. And i mean that in a good way.

Taste blows up with west coast grapefruit hops. Some slight pine in here, but this is surely a grapefruit bomb. But wait. The malt sweetness brings a nice biscuity contrast that keeps me quite intrigued. That strange malt sweetness i described in the nose is evident in the taste. Im not sure what it is, but it is defenitely in the malt. A pungent sweetness, almost a dankness. It is more noticeable in the nose, but i do pick it up in the taste as well. Very good and very interesting. Hop bitterness rides on the finish, but it is unabrasive and quite clean. The interesting sweetness (again, i am stressing the slightness of this) lingers in the finish right along side the grapefruit bitterness of the hops. A very very well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel is very nice here, just about right for what a good solid slightly heavy IPA should be. Carbonation is well done, not too heavy, not too light. Goes down easy smooth, no chalky or abrasiveness in or after the swallow.

Drinkability is yet another strong suit of this brew. Goes down very easily, and pleasantly. Im having trouble saving enough of this bomber to finish my review, as this one makes me want to take a chug or two each time i bring it to my face.

Overall this is a very impressive IPA from Ballast point. The first beer of theirs was Dorado, which was also quite good, but i find this one to be so much cleaner. Just ideal for an IPA. The malt profile keeps me wondering even now. That strange fruity kind of dank sweetness is calling to me, but i cannot answer it. It is very mysterious. The balance in this beer is very impressive. A very fine IPA from California, and one I will surely seek out again. Excellent beer.

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Photo of travisd13
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a Lost Abbey glass.

A- Pours a clear bright orange with a two finger white head.

S- Mmm, Mmm, good! Fruity, maybe mango or apricot? Also nice citrus/grapefruit notes. Just a little pine...balanced with just enough malt to let you know it's in there.

T- Almost perfect bitterness level. The hops are balanced just right with a sweet/carmel malt flavor. Hops are just as the smell...fruity, citrus, and a little pine. Just a hint of alcohol.

M- Body is medium with some carbonation. Very nice crisp/dry finish with a long lasting bitterness.

D- Very drinkable! I could drink two of these in a row...the ABV is on the lower side for the style and that's fine with me because then I can drink more. Not that I will...but could. Great beer! Thanks to oodeftone!

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Photo of Biggness
4.59/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light amber (not cloudy) with a 2 fingered head and lots of lacing. The smell is wonderful, fruity, nutty, hops, spices and you can even get some sense of the malts. The taste is wonderful as well, beautiful fruity flavors with some nut flavor and citrusy hops and a great malt base to it. Very well balanced and certainly one of the best IPA's I have ever taste, I had to take a double take to see if it was a DIPA. The mouthfeel suffers from a very dry aftertaste, but the carbonation level seems nice. I could see myself drinking a bunch of these in a night :)

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Photo of pwoods
4.57/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to torchednoodle for this brew.

22oz. brown bomber poured into an imperial pint. No dating.

A: Pours a light amber with some copper tinting and perfect clarity. A big 2+ finger ivory forms and has great retention. Great lacing throughout. The color is the only slight letdown.

S: So damn juicy. As the label suggests, plenty of peach, mango, a touch a apricot, and some more acidic lemon and grapefruit notes. Plenty of the west coast pine going on but not as oily or resinous as most are, but it fits perfectly here. Some malt sweet compliments the fruitiness and manages to attempt a balance.

T/M: Very good bitterness level. Assertive and just on the verge of puckering. More of the juicy fruits from the nose with a bit more assertive pine and resin. Malts are sweet and a touch caramel-y with some light toasted salty pine nuts in the back. The alcohol shows with just a little pop after swallowing that starts the dry and long lasting bitter finish. Body is medium light with average carbonation. Maybe a touch more carbonation to liven things up could be an improvement.

D: Tasty as all hell and ABV isn't too high for the style. This is a massive hop attack, though, especially for a single IPA. It's not too much for this hop head but just a bit too much for the style. A bit more carbonation could improve the drinkability of this hop bomb. Great beer.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had several of these on cask at Bella Vista at their grand re-opening yesterday. Definitely was the highlight.

Similar in color to the bottled version with a little more haziness. Fantastic looking head, great retention and lacing. On the nose, this beer is incredibly floral and hoppy with a good deal of fruitiness. Pretty much a crushed hop pellet. On the palate, it's hops all the way, like the bottled version, only better in that there's an excellent balance between the flavor and the bittering hops. Surprisingly well-carbonated for a cask ale, it's a treat on the palate with a great balance, apart from the occasion hop particle that's there. Drinkability wise, this beer is almost bar none - I drank more than I should have!

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 13,968 ratings
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