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Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

2,416 Reviews
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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 2,416 | Ratings: 13,323
Photo of dwilson01
3.54/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served poured out of a bomber into a pint glass, lots of initial carbonation in the bottle but poured very smoothly, medium amount of head, dissipates pretty quickly but stays around due to constant release of carbonation.

Didn't appear cloudy at all, looks like it has been filtered , definitely glows when held up to the light, golden coloring.

Smell is not too intense for an IPA, between all the flavors I detect the bitterness of the hops coming through the most. I get no sweet smell, small amount of citrus but mostly the bitter west coast style IPA.

Taste follows the smell, it's all hop bitterness with not too much malt in there although I get a little more of that than in the smell. Very solid flavor though, consistent and stays with you after you throw it back for quite some time.

Pretty thin mouthfeel due to the small amount of malt in this one, I think they probably just threw barley in there with a single kind of hops to maintain a single flavor throughout the tasting which they definitely achieved.

Overall, likeable beer but forgettable. Maybe I got a bad one or something but I think this one may be a little sandbagged in the overall grade it snags on here. I guess that basically I was expecting a bit more than I got in the flavor and feel of the beer. This one was really just the big eye IPA with a greater amount of hops in it so not too exciting.

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

Pour - big, bright orange and yellow with a glow that makes you think of that first morning sunrise of a long vacation. This is all topped off with a big fluffy white head.

Aroma - tropical fruits (mangoes, pineapples, papaya, guava) and loads of tangerine and grapefruit to boot. This smells heavenly, such a great mixture of fresh piney goodness from the hops. Its pungent and enticing, I am drawn in immediately.

Taste - big juicy tropical fruit flavors mesh with a great balance of cotton candy like malt sweetness. Its a perfect match for the big hop profile that Sculpin is packing. Pineapple and grapefruit really stand out on the tongue with just the right amount of bitterness and astringency but again this is backed up nicely by the sweetness.

Overall - absolutely excellent American IPA and one that stands out even amongst so many great choices on the shelves these days. This is what the discriminating hophead craves.

Would I buy more of it? - yes, yes, yes. Next time its released fresh I'll be stocking up on this super fine fish.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bocktown had this on tap, it lasted from Wednesday nights tasting to mid day Thursday. I'm glad I stopped in for some lunch time beers on Thursday. Appears a pale copper hue with a bubbling bright white head, forms intricate fine lacing down the sides of my glass as it dwindles. Aromatics have a full blown hop garden going on with bountiful citrusy graperfruit and tropical fruit tones, raw floral and herbal qualities as well, with some mild sweetness making it's way from the pale malts. Flavor was brazenly bitter full on assault of bitter orange peel pith, floral herbal hops, and again tropical fruit juiciness. Pale malts gave enough bread and biscuit components just to balance out the huge hop profile. Killer experience I can't wait to try more from these guys, mouthfeel was oily resinous medium bodied ale. Soft mellow carbonation made this one lubricatingly smooth experience, drinkable as all hell. I'm 100% sold and I'm glad I found this brew that I have been trying to track down for over 5 yrs now, a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh beer scene.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Got this bottle in a trade with Sideswipe... Poured it into my New Belgium Globe glass.

Pours a coppery apricot color with a solid finger of frothy bone white head. Retention is great! Lace is clinging hard just from the head settling. Brilliantly clear. I will flat out say that this looks incredible.

I smell some sweet malts and then it's hop city. Grapefruit and pineapple, and lemony/orangey apricots. I also smell a little bit of fresh-cut flowers, but I don't know what to call it (other than flowery), but it reminds me more of the smell of actually CUTTING the flowers' stems, not of the petals.

Taste is very nice. Well balanced between malts and hops. Starts off with a pleasant malt front, sweet up front... Then the bitterness hits as it slides to the back of my tongue. I do taste grapefruity hops with a little pine rosin sensation as the hop oils coat my mouth and teeth. This thing isn't so bitter that it rips the enamel off, but it is certainly hoppy! I don't have the IBU info here, but it has to be around 100 or higher!

Finish is nice. Ends on another sweet note, which is nice. The aftertaste that lingers reminds me of having sucked on an orange slice 5 minutes ago... This is one that makes me not want to eat or drink anything else, for fear of losing that aftertaste. If I had more of this, I would have another one!

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Photo of jneiswender
4.82/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had as part of a tasting at the Ballast Point Brewing Company. Served on tap in a tasting glass.

A-old gold body and a nice thick off white head.

S-nice tangerine and citrus smell

T-so much flavor. malt caresses the tongue and pine and citrus flavors pop up here and there.

M-medium to light

D-such a great beer. very smooth. Flavors in this beer just seem to pop. Nice and complex.

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Photo of tlamond
4.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Intro: Considered rare where I live (Massachusetts),the Sculpin has quite a reputation...
Appearance:Golden haze with a nice lacing similar to Smuttynose Finest Kind
Smell:Great typical American Hop profile(Citrus,Lemon,Mango etc.).Fruity,Piney...no noticeable malt like DFH
Taste:Hops all the way..all that I love in American I.P.A's..a bitterness that smacks you in the face like Green Flash West Coast I.P.A..a faint trace of sweetness but clearly hops are the main course
Mouthfeel:Good Carbonation that maintains retention throughout
Drinkability:goes down like the best of them..although for $10 for a bomber in MA(when you can find it) i think it would be better to just mix West Coast I.P.A & Torpedo I.P.A cause that's what it tastes like

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Photo of zoso493
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this one in a pint glass from a 22 oz. bomber immediately following a Pliny the Elder. Let's see how it stacks up.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful golden amber color that is effervescently hazy. It has a thinnish one- to two-finger head that leaves some moderate lacing on the glass.

Smell: This has one has a fantastically diverse scent of hops to it. Just about every wonderful hop smell you can imagine comes out in this one. There are the bright fruity scent, the resinous pines and of course the acidic citruses. There's also an ever-present undercurrent of deliciously sweet caramel malts that tie the whole thing together.

Taste: The hops are tied together very nicely in the taste, as well, although they are just a touch too subdued to give this brew the ultimate score. Regardless, they are woven together masterfully and the sweet malts just make them seem like are smothered in sugar. This is a fantastically smooth and complex IPA.

Mouthfeel: This is a very nicely carbonated and crisp IPA. It's easy to forget that this is just a single IPA until you notice the mouthfeel which is pleasantly medium-bodied. This is no gripe on the beer, though, as this just makes it all the more drinkable.

Drinkability: This is an endlessly drinkable beer. It's not an overly hopped West Coast IPA (although it's definitely of the West Coast variety) and will definitely leave your palate able to take more - lots more. This is a beer that I just never want to stop drinking.

Overall, this is truly a special IPA. Since I had it just after a Pliny the Elder I'd have to give the nod to the PtE but I hate to make such a comparison because this is an exceptional beer. It's a tremendously intricate IPA and is worth every effort in being sought out. Top-notch beer.

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Photo of djaeon
3.75/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a great golden color. Moderate white head, with average retention and little lacing.

S - Smells like a great example of an IPA. Moderate citrus & pine with a generous amount of hops.

T - Hops at the forefront of course, with a decent citrus & light pine backing. There's a noticeable bitter tang in the aftertaste, but not unpleasantly so.

M - Good carbonation which mellows the bitter IPA sting.

D - This is a fairly easy drinker. I found myself drinking it a bit faster than normal.

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bubbly golden body with an enormous off white thick bubbly head. This beer leaves a lot of lacing as it subsides, very nice.

Smells very hoppy, tons of pine notes with even more grapefruit. A very fruity aroma, lots of pear, grapefruit, peach and lemon. Terrific nose, hard to improve on this aroma.

Big and hoppy! Just how I enjoy IPAs, tons of hop bitterness and variety. Lots of grapefruit, pine, lemon, pear, mango and just overall terrific hop profile. Not much malt noticeable, just a slight bready backbone. Very well done, near perfection.

Mouthfeel is light and bubbly, carbonation is on the higher end of the spectrum for an IPA, but I like it.

Drinkability is very good, pleasure on the palate, I wish I could drink it all day long.

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Photo of vrazionale
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650 mL bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter.

A - Bright golden body with a delicately-laced, frothy cappuccino head.

S - Beautiful and inviting. Lots of tropical fruit, floral notes, and citrus. The tropical fruits that are most prominent are mango, papaya, and pineapple - all sweet and juicy fruits. Just a touch of medicinal aromas on the finish.

T - So well-balanced. The sweetness of the fruit flavors combined with the citric, slightly piney bitterness work so well together.

M - Perfect carbonation - crisp and refreshing. No cloying stickiness here, unlike many other IPAs.

D - Wow. This is just about the most perfect IPA I can imagine. I found myself continuing to go back for more - it's almost too good to savor, you just keep taking sips. An absolute must-try for any beer lover, and especially so for lovers of fruity, floral IPAs.

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

Pours a creamy golden/orange with slight white head. Some nice lacing and carbonation evident.

Smell is outstanding, hops with strong citrus and peach smells. A very pleasant smelling beer.

Taste is very light, refreshing but still very hop forward. Citrus is obvious and lingers in the aftertaste. Malt is very subdued.

Mouthfeel very smooth, creamy, and pleasant. Very easy to drink.... i've gotten so used to the harshness of some DIPAs that this is a nice change of pace.

Very drinkable beer and one you could drink multiples of in a sitting. Glad I finally got to try it, but sadly this qualifies as another beer that, good as it is, is hard to keep justifying at the price point.

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Photo of irishgurl4
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got lucky to try this little dandy at a Ballast Point Pairing at my local Whole Foods last night. From notes on 2/28/2010.

A: Pours a warm orangey yellow with a very exuberant off-white head.

S: A very fragrant peach and mango aroma with the hops lurking in the background.

T: On first sip the peach flavor hits your tongue and then gently fades to the bitter hops as it moves across the palate.

M: Amazing balance in flavor that leaves a mild lingering bitter aftertaste that rapidly fades.

D: Refreshing, flavorful, and balanced. This one gets an overall "noms +" from me.

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Photo of abrand
4.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 ounce bomber acquired via trade from JesseTheHut. Thanks Jesse! This is the start of my west coast IPA tour!

The Sculpin IPA pours a brilliantly bright gold color with lots of carbonated bubbles flowing from the SN etched pint glass. A very frothy 2 finger head that does not go away throughout the brew. This is one of the best looking heads I have ever seen. Aromas are pleasantly hops with lot of fruits including apricots, lemons and grapefruit. Quaff is dominated with hops. Also some of the same citrus fruits from the aroma and also pine flavors. No alcohol is noted in the quaff but wow the hops in this are amazing. A hop heads dream come true. Mouthfeel is crispy and full bodied. Drinkability is unbelievable... Flavor profile is intense but incredible. Thanks again Jesse for giving me the chance to try this.

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Photo of fiver29
4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours clear amber orange color with off white head. Aroma is pine, grass, pinapple, and lemon. There are just wonderful citrus flavors not typically present in other beers in this style and this one has them all in one. Medium mouthfeel. Flavors follow the nose and finish dry. Really nice beer and one I'd drink regularly if I could.

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Photo of Walken
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ballast Point: Sculpin IPA (No date) (Tasted 02/28/10)
22 oz. bottle, poured into a tulip pint.

Appearance: Clear as day, golden beer with hints of orange, bubbles rushing up feeding the monstrous eggshell white head, looks like soap bubbles around the edges, circle of meringue in the center. Lovely. Retention is good, lacing is surprisingly minimal.
Odor: I can smell this from the glass, which is sitting about a foot away on my desk. Up close, rich "sweet" mango, pineapple, white grapefruit in the background. Relatively sure that this is all hop aroma, though the perception of sweetness might be coming from the malt?
Consistency: Light bodied, carbonation is solid and high-ish, but instead of prickling the tongue, it adds a creamy back-end to the feel of this beer. Hop oils are there, though they don't add much body.
Flavor: I'm slowly getting the point. Monstrous hop flavor, layered differently than the aroma. Grapefruit zest and pine on top, pineapple & mango in the background. Malt throws a nice background, sweetish with some very faint caramel notes waaaay in back. As if it needs to be said, there's no struggle for balance here, Mike "Hop Leaf" Tyson vs. Woody "Two Row" Allen, Tyson wins. Crisp, dry finish, which allows the bitter resin to start smacking the palate around. Slight alcohol presence in the finish. This is supremely drinkable hop juice, I want more...

Man, believe the hype. This is a great beer with absolutely no glaring flaws, likely because they only brew it when they have the time to do it right. I'm a sucker for tropical fruit leaning IPAs and this is one of the best in that vein of the style that I've had the pleasure of trying. I'll snag a bottle whenever it comes out this way.

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Photo of prg1976
4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear straw color with a decent white head. Head sticks around, too.

Aroma is amazing! Pure citrus all around. Grapefruit, pineapple are in your face.

For all the aroma in there, the taste is a little lacking. I'm kindof disappointed. Just not enough malts to go with the hops. Seems too light for the way it smells.

Mouthfeel is fine, carbonation is good. Drinkability is good, almost too drinkable.

Disappointed in this one, especially after the aromas right after opening the bottle.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firkin of Sculpin in a pint glass a few times. Thanks goes out to Ballast Point for deciding to send this dry hopped version (amarillo & 2 other hop varieties) to Philly at the Sidecar Bar, I love this town.

A- Sculpin has a nice bright gold look to it with some mild haze within the liquid. A bright white head formed while i filled the glass and reached at least two inches looking soapy. This foam is beautiful with frothy look plus shine. Some solid patches of lace here and the head never died.

S- A whole lot of love from the hops of which there are probably a few varieties. The usual grapefruit scent with other tropical fruits including mango which I love. Not really getting a malt sense but that does not mean it's not in there. Grapefruit by the boatload. It's hard to get around the tropical fruits. A great smelling IPA with class, probably my favorite in this category.

T- Yikes, this sure packs a punch for an American IPA, Sculpin borders on double territory, and I quite like it. Fresh tropic fruits with the mango making a nice appearance but the mango is a bit subdued in this serving type. Peach also in the top pairing nice with the mango. Some lemon zest and pineapple topping things off. Some bready hints from the malt but barely making a dent behind the hop bill. A hop lovers dream, basically grapefruit juice.

M- I had this deadly fish off a pin at Bella Vista some time ago and the mouthfeel was magnificent, this particualar firkin is not quite up to that level, but close enough. Sculpin is on the thinner side in feel but does not fall short in impression. Good carb but not too high and a bit on the bitter side, just like a good IPA should. The aftertaste sticks around and reminds me of just sticking a hop cone on your tounge.

D- Glad it's only 7% and it's impressive that it packs such a wallop with that lower type ABV. It took a few sips of this serving type to get the full effect from the taste but that changed by the second sip and stayed throughout the 16oz. While bitter this does not kill your ability to enjoy it and bask in the tropic plunge. I will gladly drink the shit out of Sculpin anytime and look forward to having it again soon.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Golden amber, thick one inch of off white head; cloying lace.

Intense aroma of tropical fruit, pineapples come to mind, and pine. Very fresh, with a sweet grain, biscuit malt undertone.

Resiny pine upfront coupled with grain sweetness. Pine flavor lingers well after swallow. Biscuit malt and fruit, oranges and mango, pleasantly balance this brew without detracting from the hops. Sweet aftertaste. Everything you could want in a IPA.

Medium carbonated, with a creamy and light body. Overall, the well balanced flavors and the creamy mouthfeel make this beer highly drinkable.

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Photo of SShelly
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice bright gold with big white head, lots of retention.

Crisp big hop aroma, citrus, more citrus.

Big upfront bitterness ending in lemony hop flavor. Leaves lots of citrus in the mouth.

Dry and drinkable, balanced to to the bitter and hoppy, damn this is good.

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Photo of engisch
4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a hard beer to find... Saw it on the best of BA and needed to seek it out. Found it on tap in the Hulmeville Inn in PA.

The appearance is a bit cloudy probably due to the large amount of hops. It is a orange/golden color with a decent head and substantial carbonation.

The smell is of mainly citrus with a very fresh aroma and a little pine smell. Great smell if you are a hophead!

Taste is of citrus hops. Very bitter. Not much malt character. A great American IPA.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are nothing abnormal or unusual. Just a really hoppy IPA. I like this beer and would have it again.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.09/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent IPA. I finally got my hands on some. I can't believe how hard this is for me to get when I live an hour from the brewery.

Appearance is an orangish cloudy color. Not much head formed at all. There is a ring and slight lace.

Aroma is of pineapple, pine, citrus. Not a ton of aroma like pliney but pretty good.

Taste is great. One of the better IPA's. Pliney is still my fav but this one is still very good. Glad I still have another bottle left.

Mouthfeel is great. On higher end of carb for style but good.

Overall a very good beer. Go get it

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Photo of mdfb79
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass.

a - Poured an orangish/golden color with one finger of white head and a lot of carbonation evident. Somewhat transparent.

s - Smelled this as soon as the bottle was opened and while pouring. Lots of hops, pine, and citrus to it. Smells great and very fresh.

t - First tastes are of hops and citrus. Has a strong bitter taste throughtout drinking, and hints of bready malts after some of the bitterness and hops subside.

m - Medimum body, moderate carbonation, pretty easy to drink.

d - Overall I really enjoyed this IPA. The smell was one of the best smelling IPAs I've ever smelled, and the taste was great too. Very easy to drink and wonderful fresh. I would put this right below PTE and HopSlam in terms of my favorite IPAs and would highly suggest trying this if you see it.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to 7ways for the trade on this one. I've been eager to try it.
22 oz. bottle into my trusty pint glass.

A: Hazy golden color with a thick white head. Retention is average, but leaves great lace on the edge of the glass.

S: Hop aromas are great. Citrus, pine, and spring meadow dominate, but grainy malt aromas paint a picture int he back.

T: Hops are more mellow on the palate than the nose, but still dominant. Grassy, piney notes are subtle, with a massive citrus character. Malt balances out flavor with notes of hiney, caramel, and fresh bread.

M: Medium bodied, this brew is velvety on the palate, and well balanced. The finish is dry and clean, but still long.

D: One f the best IPAs I have ever had. If only I could still get it here. Once again, Thanks to 7ways for hooking me up with this treat!

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

The beer pours a gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is awesome! Wow, what a hop nose on this one. It's light with mostly a pale malt grist. It's incredibly bitter with a ton of citrus hops. The taste is great as well. It has a tremendous hop flavor thats bitter up front and resinates in the finish. It's light and easy drinking with a solid pale malt base. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate/good carbonation. This is a wonderful beer. It so incredibly smooth and drinkable. The hop character is outstanding.

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Photo of Patrick999
4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Always great to come in possession of a fresh, highly-regarded IPA. There's never any hand-wringing over when to drink them, because the answer is always "as soon as you can!"

Poured into a Stella glass. Clear golden body with a slight pink grapefruit tinge. Decent but not overwhelming head, with a little lacing.

Popped the cap, and I got a whiff a couple feet away from the bottle - really fresh green hop. Pine resin and sticky bud. A little passionfruit. I'm not the biggest hophead out there, but this kind of hop aroma is pretty difficult to resist. Reminds me a lot of the hop aroma found in fresh Stone beers, kinda that rustic, fresh-picked-weed aroma.

It smelled like a hop blast, and that of course is what it is. A lot of intense pine up front. Mango and guava enter the equation as it warms, not so much cold. This makes me happy, as straight up Pine-Sol IPAs are never really my favorites. Not a lot of citrus presence here, I find. That's OK, there are plenty of grapefruit-heavy IPAs on the market. It's cool to find one that gets it done in a bit different way. I believe it's the noticeable tropical fruit esters in particular that help contribute in large part to the high rating here on BA, and I concur. Malt? Oh yeah, I forgot there is malt in here. It's not entirely an unbalanced beer, as a thick-ish grain does rise up and hit the palate here and there.

It has an astringent mouthfeel. Appropriate per style.

I'd have to give it a 4.5 for drinkability. I certainly won't have trouble finishing the bomber, but it stops just short of perfect here. A little high with the ABV, I find myself getting light-headed quicker than I would have expected. Or maybe this is just some secondary effect from the big hops....I seem to be a little sensitive to hops.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,416 ratings.
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