Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA
14,300 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 14,300 |  Reviews: 2,547
Photo of gibby
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received a bomber through a trade with weibull, big thanks man. Hope you enjoy the ST choklat.

Poured bomber into a huge goblet wine glass. Clear orange in color with very little head that only stuck around for about 30 seconds. I could smell the citrus as I poured it, especially lemon. Like an above poster said, I think the taste is very similar to the smell...which is excellent. Very thin in the mouth and went down way too easy. Not sure of the abv off hand.

In my opinion the sculpin is a fantastic example of a west coast style ipa. In pa we get all of the ballast point brews but for some reason this is not available. Wish it were b/c I would buy a case w/out a doubt. Time for another trade to get more. Highly recommended. Cheers.

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

Pours a bright pale goldeh amber and orange tints. Large, fomay white head kicks off after a vigorous pour. Tons of spidery lace clings to the glass as the head settles down.
Aroma starts but gets very complex as it warms a bit. Tons of soft citrus and grapefruit notes most prevalent but an interesting resin and slight pine note pop up most unexpectedly.
Flavor is trluy wonderful, just the right mix of hoppy oils and sweet malt. Really takes on a new flavor profile after it warmed up 10 degrees or so, warmth released the sweeter malts even more.
Solid mouthfeel for style, a bit lighter than some in the style but incredibly drinkable, virtually impossible to drink just one ( I could not!) Simply a great beer and one of the beer highlights of my recent trip to SD.

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

Got this recently in a trade with JessetheHutt. Thanks a lot Jesse! I still owe you one!

Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear, light orange-amber with 1/4 inch, dense, white cap. Head retains nicely and looks very sticky. Gentle carbonation can be seen inside. Spotty lacing.

Smell: Could smell the grapefruit and sweet, oily hops as soon as I cracked it open! Tons of orange, moist pine, more tangy citrus (tangerine possibly), and pungent, herbal hops. Smell reminds me a lot of PtE, but with more fruit presence and slightly weaker hop presence. Toasted bread and caramel are in there as well. Smells absolutely fantastic!

Taste: Bready malts start things off, but are followed quickly by tangy citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit), and then bitter herbal hops. I don't know where to fit this in, but these hops make me think of dusty pine-needles... in a good way. Hop flavor is very assertive and natural-tasting, without overdoing it on the bitterness. The only other time I've experienced such a "pure" hop flavor was with Pliny. Hops outweigh malt in this one, but are nowhere near over the top. Beautiful.

Mouthfeel: Very clean and crisp. Malt presence is relatively low, so don't expect much creaminess. Medium-light body. Somewhat spicy with a dry finish.

Drinkability: An ode to the hop: this beer captures it's flavor and delivers it to you in a nice clean package. Great fruity flavors throughout. Lighter body makes this dangerously drinkable. Wish they made this year-round.

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Photo of weeare138
4.09/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a transparent gold with a small white cap that slowly fades into some soapy bubbles. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of heavy pine, citrus, herbs, and flowers.
Taste is of caramel, citrus, grapefruit, pine, and peppery notes.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, herbal, citrusy, with a long, orange-like finish.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, 7% ABV. Crystal clear golden color, with a decent white head. Good head retention, and a great deal of sticky lace left on the sides of the glass.

Nose full of floral and citrusy hops. A hint of a loghter caramel malt in the nose as well, but overall very clean.

A clean, lighter caramel malt flavor really allows the hops to shine in this. Nice citrusy, floral hop flavor, a bit on the juicy side. Somehow manages to be fairly balanced.

Good body and carbonation. Very easy to drink. Simple. Outstanding.

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

swnicholson is once again the man for tossing this in.

A: Pours a hazy orange cold that looks closer to champagne near the narrow portion of the glass. Foamy, bubbly orange-tinted head that leaves sticky lacing as it falls to just a cover and a ring.

S: Huge tropical aromas; oranges; mangos; lemon, and bananas; something tangy/funky as well. Nice bisquetty malt aromas as well, you can smell a bit of depth and creaminess here.

T: Much of the nose mingles somewhere in the flavor, but again these flavors are more tropical than citric. The malt is sweet and creamy but balanced by a bitter hop finish. There's some citrus to the hops, but sweet fruit flavors still prevail.

D: A tad lighter than the nose would imply, but that's not a bad thing. A healthy medium body brew with moderate carbonation. Really smooth with a hint of creaminess.

M: A really well harmonized beer, one of the better ones. The lighter body is a plus too; it's refreshing without being too weighty. Good flavors of the tropics.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a surprisingly pale golden amber color with subtle orange hues and a deep foamy white collar with nice retention and a reasonable amount of Belgian lacing with each mouthful. The smell is amazing; aggressive and complex...from the bottle neck, peach-apricot (as suggested on the label) and from the glass a more prominent citrus and piny resin. Full flavored, a hophead's dream! Grapefruit and piny resin tastes explode and linger well into the aftertaste...that's what I'm talk'in about!! The mouth is hugely hoppy and tangy yet light in texture and carbonation. I'm seriously tempted to crack open another bomber...but that would be borderline gluttony [Wikipedia...(disambiguation) derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or intoxicants to the point of waste.]. I am willing to compare this one to Pliny the Elder...many similarities, but this one has a noticeably lighter body. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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Photo of sweetbrew82
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
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 +14.2%
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 -5.9%
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 -22.4%
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 -0.2%
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 +6.8%
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 -15.5%
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 +10%
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 -1.1%
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 +1.6%
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 -5.3%
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 -8.4%
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 +14.2%
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 +0.9%
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 +5%
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 -2.1%
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 -3.7%
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 paco1029384756
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
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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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.38 out of 5 with 14,300 ratings