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: 2,478 | Ratings: 13,761
Photo of Daniellobo
4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Iconic West coast IPA, generously hopped, and pleasing.

Presentation: 12 oz brown capped bottle . Label with a bit of a tacky illustration of the sculpin fish. Semi-erased and illegible date printed on neck. Served in a tulip glass.

A - Deep gold pour with a towering frothy head, good retention, nice surface memory, and rich lacing.

S - Rich hoppy sense, grapefruit, a bit of resin, nice floral finish.

T - Taste follows with a nice hopped character where the bitterness shines a bit more than the nuances suggested by the snow. Grapefruit bitterness takes the front seat with a touch of sweet malt behind holding it.

M - Medium/light body with medium/low carbonation, albeit with a clean and crisp tingle in the bitter finish.

D - Nice flow, this is a quality IPA worth seeking out.

Notes: First time hitting a Ballast Point brew. Maybe not the mind blower that some would suggest but this is a very nice IPA.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.73/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Found this at the Total Wine in Sarasota FL. Just got it in so I assume it's pretty fresh...

Poured a beautiful clementine orange, brilliantly clear, with a 1.5" white, dense head that left large chunks and bands of lace on the Gulden Draak tulip. Very good retention. The nose is a bit lacking in intensity. Quite muted, but the aromas are discernible: a fresh blend of grapefruit rind, grass, mango, and peach. Oh my this is delightful. I only wish it was more pronounced. However, there is no shortage of flavor! A nice, juicy, citrusy start with sweet honey that immediately gives way to the fruit basket of pomelo, tangerines, hint of pears, and peaches. There is a low lying bitterness throughout the experience that presents more prominently in the finish along with a touch of spruce and pine resin. There's a bit of lightly caramelized sugar too, that, along with honey, carries the malt to the finish. A very smooth and unfizzy carbonation makes for a velvety texture for this medium bodied beer. All of this forms a monolith of excellence in the quest for a great IPA. This is one of the best I've ever tasted. I will note, too, that by the time I've reached this point in the review, the beer has warmed a bit and the aromas are now MUCH more pronounced than before, which begs to raise the smell rating from a 3.5 to a 4.0. Truly an exceptional beer that I am grateful to have sampled for the second time and hopefully for many more times to come. Thank you, Ballast Point, for creating this goodness!

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Photo of Gunslinger711
3.85/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to treehouse for this beer.

Poured into a pint glass.

Smell: This beer has a strong hoppy smell to it.

Appearance: It pours a pale amber/orange color, with bubbles throughout.

Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth all things considered. Not even a lot of bubble feeling from the carbonation.

Taste: The citrus hit comes and goes early on in the taste. It all hops from the middle to the end. Not too much of a hard, sour taste on the back end either.

IPA isn't really my style of beer, usually they're too sour/bitter for me. This is about the smoothest one I've had. While I wouldn't drink more than one, it was awesome to get to try what is supposed to be the top beer in this style.

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Photo of paulozanello
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured it from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Sculpin pours a very nice orange amber color with a cloudy white head that has good retention and lacing. The beer is not cristal clear but almost.
Aroma is amazing: lots and lots of citrus, mainly grapefruit, tangerine, peach, apricots and mangos. Also some piney hop presence. Perfect hop combination!
Taste starts out with tons of grapefruit and some mild bitterness upfront. Then a lot of tropical fruit: peach, mango, pineapple. Ends with some grassy and piney notes. The mild bitterness persist throughout the sip and goes along very well with the citric and fruity hops.
Body is medium and carbonation is high.
Mouthfeel is very smooth and balanced. Citrus and light bitterness are present from start to finish.
Overall a very nice IPA, huge grapefruit bomb. I can't say it is the best one out there but after a certain level they are all worthy.

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Photo of Palesmith
4.77/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful cloudy orange, with a nice white head.

The nose is very fresh and citrusy, with some pine and tropical fruit.

Taste...soo good! All the things listed above for the nose applies here as well. Citrusy and fruity up front - some pineapple and apricot, followed by a nice hoppy pine.

A very smooth and effervescent ale that finishes clean and crisp.

If Pliny is the best DIPA, then this is my favorite IPA.

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Photo of aasher
4.57/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This growler was courtesy of thagr81us (thanks Calton!), who sent it to me for my birthday despit the package I sent him being destroyed by FedEx. The growler "popped" when I unscrewed the lid, unleashing a multitude of in your face bitter and hoppy aromas. This was poured into a Goose Island pint glass. It poured a rich and beautiful gold in color with a two finger, whispy off white head that laced the glass. The aromas are very wet, bitter, and full of pine. It features very citrusy and sweet hops. There is so much going on here for an IPA! I love the variation. The taste of is of pine and honey. I'd say that this is somwhere in between Hopslam and 90 Minute. It's excellent and a must try. It drinks very crisp and has excellent carbonation. It doesn't leave you with cotton mouth like many IPAs and actually leaves your mouth watering for more. This beer is superb! Thanks for the birthday growler Calton!

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into in Ballast Point pint glass...

A - Pours golden honey with a two finger off white head. Nice amount of head retention and lacing to be had...

S - Lots of citrus fruits come through on the nose. Also pick up hoppy scents, and a little pine. A little milder than I would have expected...

T - Wow, this one is extremely smooth. The citrus fruits that came through in the nose emerge in full force. Oranges, grapefruit, and maybe a touch of apricot. Ends with grapefruit, and a smooth hop bitterness. BP brewed an extremely balanced brew. Nothing is over the top. Very nice...

M - Medium bodied with a mild amount of carbonation...

D - One of my go to brews when I am in the mood for the style. What else can I say? BP brewed a winner here...


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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Paul (Lunch) for sharing this growler.

A: Mostly clear and light yellow in color with a thick, white head and an ample amount of sticky lacing.

S: Great fresh hop and tart citrus aromas. Simply wonderful.

T: Absolutely awesome flavor. Grapefruit presence is very prominent. Tangy and hop forward, this beer is incredibly smooth and bursting with flavor.

M: Medium / thin in body, the feel is smooth and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation.

D: I could drink this all night. One of the best IPAs I have ever had.

I have had a few experiences with this beer where the aste was phenomenal. however, Sculpin is inconsistent, whether from the tap or the bottle. Too many decent to mediocre experiences to sustain the soaring high score I gave it initially.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into DFH snifter signature glass. No bottle date present. 12oz bottle purchased at Capone's in Norristown, PA.

A: Pours a slightly (it is nicely filtered) hazy, golden color. One finger, white head fades quickly. Good lacing. Great carbonation, bubbles throughout.

S: AWESOME fruity hops. I got citrus and pine off the nose. Lots of grapefruit. Amazng....

T: Taste is just like the nose....hops and more hops. Delicious stuff. Crisp bite at the start and a clean finish. Mild to no malt kick. It's there but doesn't overpower.

M: Mouthfeel is nice and coating, but doesn't completely mouth pucker. This isn't overly chewy like some Imperials get.

D: I could drink this all night! I really put this up there as one of my top 5. A little harder to find though. And that 7% ABV does catch up to you.

Overall, as mentioned this is a top 5 IPA for me if not #1. Love the A/S/T/M/D in total. Great package. Really enjoy the products from this brewery. Big Eye is good too, but Sculpin is much better.

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Photo of diomz88
4.8/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - poured in a tulip, golden amber in color, little hazy, one finger white head that recedes slowly. with lacing.
S - fruity and citrusy, like grapefruit! i like it alot. with some hints of spice and herbs, but mostly grapefruit.
T - as expected for an IPA, it can easily be mistaken for a double IPA, but still taste awesome! grapefruit and some other citrus involved, spicy, malty, some sweetness to it, and the hops, lots of hops. for a 7% abv, I barely taste the alcohol.
M - medium bodied, very smooth, creamy, bitterness at start to middle, and finishes clean, no aftertaste for me on this one.
D - very, very, very drinkable. I love this beer! That's why alot of people like this.

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Photo of birderbeerer
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden, amber, copper with a white, two-finger, frothy head.

Smells piney, not super big (reminder that this one isn't imperial), malt comes through as toast, butter, and a bit of caramel. Standard ipa aroma and no citrus or fruit.

The tastes come through in cycles. First is hops, pine leads. Then malt, mostly butter, some biscuit, a little bread, and in there is some fruit. Bit of pineapple and a tinge of grapefruit. Then pine comes back into the mix.

A well-rounded ipa, that approaches drinking like a double. Multiple flavors are present. It's not hop or malt dominant. It's also not totally pine or fruit dominant. Very good.

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Photo of Tripphop
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think everyone else has covered the basics here, bright orange color with fine frothy foam. Citrus overload on the nose with piney sticky hop notes. Taste is decadent, crisp, refreshingly bitter. Awesome finish with lingering resiny hops. Great pucker factor on this one, a stellar IPA.

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Photo of MayLattimore
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass and laced all the way down. The nose was big grapefruit. Lots of hops and citrus. Taste was wonderful with a big hop punch. Great finish and what I have come to expect from really well-made IPAs. Mouthfeel was good with perfect carbonation. Really easy to drink for the ABV. One of my favorite IPAs

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Photo of tigernipples
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber, no date on bottle.

A: wow , the smells fills the air right as the cap is removed. Pours a nice honey yellow/orange. This is one of the better looking IPAs i've had to date.

S: Peaches grapefruit, and a bit of apricot up front. Citrus and a splash of bananas, followed by more peaches and a backbone of pine. smells delicious.

T: the taste follows the smell with Grapefruit and peaches. very balanced, VERY balanced. Once swallowed you get a nice bitterness of hops to dry and the mouth to make you want more.

M: Very creamy feel for an IPA. Best mouthfeel I've had on an IPA. Smooth.

D & Overall: Love this. For an IPA and not a DIPA this is the best I've had. If I could find these in 6 packs I'd buy these regularly. I found this locally for $9.99 a bomber. Thats high to me for a 7% ABV but its worth it. You can easily drink a 22oz of this and move onto something else(unless you had another bomber which I'd be tempted to open) Really was the best IPA I've had, can't imagine drinking a better one.

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Photo of phisigben
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Look- Two and a half finger white fluffy head, nice orange color not very dark but dark enough

Smell - grapefruit, pine, a light sweetness

Taste- Huge pine with a little grapefruit there is some maltiness but not a lot

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is a little too thin for me to give a five but not too bad there is a slight slickness but it seems to leave the mouth pretty quickly

Drinkabiltiy- It is hard to find a reason not to give it a five. I could drink this all the time.

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Photo of nkersten
4.83/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle courtesy of Kevin, thanks! Golden clear body with a one finger white head that fades to a cap with good lacing. Smell is malty sweetness with a balance of big tropical fruit hops, slightly jammy. Taste starts off with a huge pineapple flavor, enticingly bitter but not overpowering, crisp and very tasty beer with a good malty backbone. Medium light body with a light but active carbonation. A very solid IPA, easily the best of its style and up there in flavor and appearance with the best DIPA. Will gladly drink this any day.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- a very cloudy lightly burnt orange
S-delightfully hoppy. Both floral and citrus hops hit the nose
T-very light compared to most brews I have been drinking. Nice amounts of hops, but not too much. Tastes alot like it smells
M-crisp and bitter. leaves a nice hop bitterness aftertaste
D-very drinkable. Another brew that has me california dreaming (on such a winter's day)

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Photo of kwjd
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at City Beer in San Francisco. I love that you can actually have beer right in the store! Pours a bright orange colour with thick white head. Really nice head retention with lacing on the glass. Smells of huge pine and citrus hops with some caramel malt. Really big bitterness level, reminds me more of a double IPA actually. Medium bodied carbonation. A beautiful IPA, one of the best I've had.

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

From a 22oz bomber into a New Belgium globe

A - Orange, dense thick white head that diminishes to a thin swirl . Held up to the light almost not see-through due to the deep orange color.

S - Hops - initial floral followed by nice citrus smell.

T - Initial floral taste with light bitterness that evens back out with citrus notes and lingers mixing floral and a nice citrus crisp finish. Light and smooth - less bitter and more smooth.

M - Light feel, decent medium carbonation, clean crisp enjoyable feel, enjoyable.

D - Easy drinking and smooth - could have a few and not be destroyed by hop bitterness as with some IPA/DIPA. Price point is a bit high due to demand - range of price is $5.99-$11.99 for a 22oz bomber. At the $8.99 or $9.99 for the 22oz bomber I paid, I couldn't see drinking this all the time when Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder run roughly $6.09 on the high end here for 16oz and similar from Ballast at the Big Eye is $4.00 for the 22oz Bomber. Even Green Flash is a lower price point and comparable with the 4-pack.
My favorite has been the Sculpin, but I'll be buying competitors if the price stays as high as it is...

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.12/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a modified tulip glass

Thanks to hannydawg for this beer.

This beer pours a golden orange color with some white head on the surface. The aroma gives the impression of cracked wheat on the nose. The hop characteristics aren't too strong, perhaps this is due to it not being as fresh as it could be. There is a caramel note and some mild spices in the background that I solely attribute to the grain bill of this particular beer. Not a bad IPA for the dollar.

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Photo of SirRuss
4.18/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Hazy amber straw sports what can only be described as a perfect head. Retention is respectable. although the lacing is a little thin.

S - Apparently this fish has been brewed with stick of Juicy Fruity thrown into the mix. The hop blend brings forth tropical notes of pineapple and papaya, which play alongside succulent orangey lemon wafts. Blasts of grapefruit and pine lend an airy freshness to the aroma, and a hint of soft malts flutter in the background, but they're fleeting at best. Having talked up the hops, it should also be noted that their complexity far outweighs their intensity, which results in an aroma more akin to a summer breeze than a tropical storm.

T - A perfect reflection of the nose, although the pine and grapefruit are more pronounced and dominate the profile to create a more cleansing experience than the juicy scent suggested. The tropical and citrus squeezes are definitely not lost however, and the podgy juciness provides a great supporting role. Also true to the nose is the malt expression, whose role is one of strict, ambitionless servitude to the flamboyant hop profile. But there is a momentary flaw which occurs at the back end of the mid palate, as the transition into the finish proves to be somewhat watery and vacuous. I'm almost inclined to praise this glitch, as it reminds me of the final impression of a juicy orange segment - but unfortunately it's the type of orange that has been commercially produced and bloated beyond common sense in the name of the" size trumps flavor" megastore market. Ultimately, this watery transition comes across to me as a wasted opportunity. (It's also worth mentioning at this point that by swallowing your swig quickly, instead of savoring/analyzing, the glitch is far less apparent)

M - The perfect carbonation level really oils up the flavor factory, and its an interesting balance between the gentle resinous spine, and the juicy fruity flesh. Final impressions are dry, juicy (more watery than sweet though), and refreshing.

D - Definitely a summer sipper. Despite the criticisms, this brew is jam-packed with loads of tasty flavors, and distinct tropical roots make it a perfect refresher.

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Photo of turfy
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally got to try Sculpin, thanks to a trade with Ultraman 9000. Poured a slightly hazy, deep golden color with a nice head. Some nice lacing after 10 minutes as the head disapated to about 1/8 inch. The smell was as expected from the track record of this brew - a nice grapefruity aroma that I have seldom experienced. The taste was very well balanced...smooth and full of grapefruit and citrus notes. I tasted this one side by side with another highly rated IPA and the Sculpin was more balanced and did not have as much bite/ bitterness as the other. This is one great IPA. I could drink several of these . An exceptional brew!

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

On tap at Common Market in Charlotte.

Beer pours a hazy golden straw color with a nice layer of bright white head that leaves a nice layer throughout the drink and lacing all over the glass. The smell is fresh citrus, mostly grapefruit and orange with a little touch lemon zest freshness. The taste is deliciously bitter with a thin albeit adequate maltiness. The hops have a nice bit of fresh grapefruit flavor that tastes as fresh as anything I've had. Very smooth and drinkable for a 7%er, and while the beer is nicely bitter, it is definitely not too harsh to keep going back for more. Will seek out again.

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Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.04/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Golden color with a little less than a finger of fine head.

S: Extremely piney and floral. The nose on this beer supersedes the taste.

T: overwhelming grapefruit and minimal malt. This beer's aroma far surpasses its taste.

M: Mildly carbonated and light bodied.

D: A crisp IPA with a strong flavor profile of grapefruit hops that leave a decisive mark on the palate.

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

To begin, I have to say that, given the hype and the claim from very trustworthy beer connoisseurs of how complex this should be and all the tropical fruits that should be here, I'm starting to believe Overlord's claim that this beer has changed. I have no previous experience with it, but of the few people I know personally who have, nobody thinks it's still the same recipe done the same way. It's great, but I don't review by hype.

Thanks Steve (a74gent) for another great pickup.

An extremely sturdy, forceful dirty blond head just over 2 fingers in height sits atop a slightly cloudy but bright golden-amber brew. Lacing is left somewhat copiously and sticks pretty well to the glass. There's plenty of activity going on both in a nice cascade and after the pour. This is a beauty.
The nose is pretty exceptional, mingling slightly earthy aromas with floral aromas in the hops, and here there is a touch of citrus and soft bright, tropical notes underneath along with resin. It also has balance, allowing hops to rule but offering an underlying malts backing contributing light breads and sweet notes.
The flavor is that of a very good IPA, very nice, well-balanced with malts but with very little tropical fruits at all and quite a bit more pine resin. A few of the intricacies from the nose are lost, but it's still tasty, and lots of hops come through. Floral hops flavors are strongly underneath resinous hops with some citrus following and a little earthiness pulling through in a lingering semi-dry finish.
There's just a slight crispness to each sip before going pretty smooth, and malts contribute some body and a touch of sweetness to liven up what would be a dry finish. Carbonation is moderate.
This is a very good beer, but I would love the tropical flavor hops contributions everyone raves about. I'd certainly try it again, but it's a bit expensive considering.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,761 ratings.
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