Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

2,463 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,463 | Ratings: 13,663
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.

 547 characters

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)

 373 characters

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.

 404 characters

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...

 1,143 characters

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.

 469 characters

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.

 2,188 characters

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!

 633 characters

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.

 611 characters

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.

 374 characters

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.

 1,883 characters

Photo of BeerAmbassador
4.42/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay chalice. A nice head was formed but it dissipated rather quickly. Aroma for me is grapefruit and resinous herbs. Not unlike many other west coast IPA's that I have had, though that's not a bad thing. Taste surprised me a bit as based on the aroma I was expecting something a little heavier and more syrupy.

The fact that this beer is a little lighter on the palate is a refreshing change from many of the west coast IPA's that I have had and it is nice to have something that is both bold and hoppy, but drinkable at the same time. This is a beer that you could have more than one of and not feel like you have blown out your palate or are drinking a bottle of syrup. (Racer 5 even though I love you dearly, I am looking at you)

 765 characters

Photo of tburus
4.09/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pale orange-gold transparent liquid. Thick, two-finger pale yellow head.

Smell: Strong grapefruit aroma with a hint of pine and possibly lemon. Not as powerful as Pliny or Hopslam, but nice.

Taste: Bitter front, bitter back. None of the citrus aromas appear to be showing up in the flavor until the very end when I catch a glimpse of it rising up off my tongue as I swallow. That said, it's an okay bitter and I can live with the lack of citrus.

Mouthfeel: Subtle bitter aftertaste with citrusy notes swimming through my nose, mouth and throat. I'm not the biggest hophead so I find this to be a rather enjoyable experience.

Drinkability: I received this in a trade (thank you, BOLTZ7555) so I can't speak to it's pricepoint, but it is an enjoyable drink if you get your hands on some. Low ABV, good aroma, moderate bitterness. Overall nice brew.

 893 characters

Photo of tobin
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a fluted tulip, it's quick to generate a fluffy head of sticky foam. Instant resiny aroma packed with floral/herbal hops and tropical fruit. Color is a light high-clarity orange with tiny rising bubbles. Lacing forms in sudsy sheets, and sticks around for awhile.

Concentrated citrusy hop flavors of pink grapefruit and bitter orange pith. Residual leafiness and a juicy mango aftertaste. Pale malt is relegated to the back of the bus, but provides a slight tip to the balance scale. Moderate and creamy carbonation with the obligatory hop bite to it. Slightly dry in the end with a fairly long finish.

 615 characters

Photo of russellcricket
3.8/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22 oz into lagunitas mason.

Golden light amber in color. Finger and a half of head mellowed to a retentive thinner head with good lacing.

Great nose. Yup grapefruit and a bit of pine. I want to say some mango was as well there along side big tickling hop aromas.

Citrus grapefruit rind. Pine on center palate with a bitter hoppy gripping finish. Finishes very well with no oily mouthfeel and the bitterness nowhere near intrusive.

Great beer this was my second visit,I had initially had it on tap. However I would most likely go elsewhere for the price.

 571 characters

Photo of mjyoung
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split w/ bbb099

A: Pretty marigold color, crisp with a filmy off-white head that dissipates quickly.

S: Strong whiff of clean hops with a subtle hint of underlying citrus tones and malt base.

T: Strong hop notes up front with a powerful malt backing. Definitely a citrus concoction, with hints of orange, grapefruit, and maybe something else I can't put my finger on. Mango maybe?

M: Good! Not much to say aside from the fact that nothing about the mouthfeel interferes with the taste.

D: Great. Went down very smoothly and was quite refreshing. This is one my new favorite IPA's.

 587 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sculpin, huh? One of those sought-after gems on BA here. Hey, it's good, yeah. Not unique. Just real orange on the spectrum of looks and, in a skewed way, flavor. A lot of citrus/tropical elements to the brew. First off, it sports a lovely smooth, Orange-Julius-foamy head that holds tight and lasts awhile atop the misty-dank sunny-orange corpus cervezus - very attractive on a seaside holiday frozen-cocktail tip. Brightly-pulsating waves of melon/custard/pineapple/coconut/ project feet from the glass - quite enticing, yet almost pedestrian. From here, I lose sense of the whole "IPA" tag and tune in to a citrus-zest-fest-injection. Not screaming beer/ale with the sip... Fruity, smooth, and thick. Refreshing, but leaving some citric-slick smear behind. Nectary to an extent. Complex collage of tropic fruit dominates, surfing a wave of bold, creamy, dextriny malt - apropos considering this mix or balance of the hops - couldn't imagine this with a snappy, dry feel... It's good - not representative(?) of the (moderate) degree of hype I've been attuned to. Happy to have met with it this one time.

 1,105 characters

Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.95/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A - Hazy, burnished yellow-gold. Frothy, thick off-white head. Carbonation looks light.

S - Hmm. Seems a bit subdued. Some juicy fruit and grassy hop character. Light malt character in the background. What's there smells good, but it's pretty subdued.

T - Okay, things are getting a bit better. The same juicy, tropical fruit character carries over here. It's difficult to describe. Kind of like sugared grapefruit and canned peaches. There's also some grassy hop flavor in the finish. However, that said, it's still strangely subdued. And I don't mean just hop character, because as with the nose, the malt is barely evident, providing just a bit of light sweetness for the backbone. I'm not getting any crystal malt, so I wonder if some other specialty grain is backing the hops to give them that unique flavor.

MF - The carbonation isn't very high, giving some it some body. It's fine, but nothing special.

D - At 7%, Sculpin is pretty average in the alcohol department, but it drinks incredibly easy. It's a very delicate beer, with complex flavors that leave me wanting a whole growler to myself. I didn't expect it, but I can't imagine giving it anything other than a five here.

 1,188 characters

Photo of rootbeerman
4.13/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from notes 12/3/10

A: pours dark yellow-orange got a bit of sediment so a little haze. a finger of head settles to a thin layer with a bit of lacing.
S: powerful grapefruit and pine, a bit of sweet malt to soften the hop hit.
T/M: a bit more malty than expected from a west coast IPA, grapefruit and pine. also a little bit of under-tongue hop, carbonation is good, medium to light.
D: very drinkable, balanced malt and hop, just hoppy enough to make it a new favorite yet uncommon enough that can almost never find it.

 523 characters

Photo of hoppyhampy
4.64/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

220z bottle poured into a tulip. No freshness info. Pours a relatively clear and bright amber, more yellow than orange. One inch of frothy foam slowly dissipates leaving good lacing. Little carbonation. Beautiful nose! Mango, pineapple, and fresh, piny hops. A hint of rich malt sweetness can be detected under it all. Medium-light bodied but also flat. Not syrupy at all though. Goes down smooth without destroying the palate. Bight and playful hops have only light resiny character. Citrus, orange blossom, and pine on the palate with almost no trace of malty heaviness. Just the way I like it! This is probably the best non imperial IPA I have ever had. I can only imagine how good this would be if it were fresh from the brewery.

 733 characters

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

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a nonic glass

A: a mellow copper/golden color, medium in opacity. Very fine carbonation with extra-light lacing and a small head.

S: pine, pine and more pine. undertones of citrus -- mostly grapefruit. The scent is not overwhelming for an IPA, but pleasant and mellow.

T: Smooth, and sweet to start with mango / fruity (hint of banana) notes, citrus backbone and a crisp dry finish.

M: crisp. A near ideal level of carbonation for an IPA Slightly light in body, but near perfect on this point to my taste.

D: Exceedingly drinkable. Would have another, and another...

 603 characters

Photo of brendanbeer
4/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a. orange, light gold. nice silky head, lingers lightly.

s. pine and citrus, like a mellow pliny or hopslam

t. again same with the reserved hopslam or pliny, but missing in the complexity. its good, perhaps my bottle is a little bit too old, ive heard the fresher the better. this is about a month or two old.

m. carbonated a bit. bit more would be better. but nice soft feel.

d. pretty drinkable. 4 describes it well.

 422 characters

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.22/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: An amazingly clear copper body capped with a small white foamy head that recedes quickly to island foam.

S: A strong aroma of grapefruit, tropical fruit, apricots, pine, and peaches with a hint of bittering hops. To me, it smells like cascade or simcoe hops, with just enough sweetness and bitterness in the nose, but very well balance.

T: A nice upfront grapefruit and apricot flavor with notes of pine, followed with a dry malty flavor, and ends with a balance hoppy bitterness. A long lasting finish which makes this a very good IPA.

M: Smooth and crisp texture; medium body; medium carbonation.

D: Really enjoy this beer. Not a chuggable beer, but one you can sit, enjoy, and drink slowly. And before you know it, you've drank 5-6 of these. A little fruitier then most IPAs, but a must try for an IPA lover.

 818 characters

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

12oz bottle. Poured a murky golden haze. Retained a nice head and carbonation throughout. Smell consisted of pines and "sweaty" hops. Tasted a big hop character, mango and lemon zest. Crisp and light bitter finish in regard to mouthability. Drank down smooth; a nice and solid IPA with an interesting character.

 311 characters

Photo of leakyfaucet12
4.28/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a-huge white head that will not go away. Golden body that is full of fizzy bubbles.

s- Smells so good, tons of fruity hopps and tons of pine.

t- A little more fruity tasting than most of the IPAs I have had. THe hops are bitter and toung battering.

M- Tons of carbonation and great body to this one. I really enjoy it

D- I could drink alot of this beer thanks to afk sports for this surprise. A very pleasant one at that

 424 characters

Photo of THECPJ
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes 12/3/2010

A: smells slightly sweet, but profound citrus hop scents, and a hint of pine.

Ap: gold yellow with a 1 finger white head

B/T: mild carbonation, well balanced, smooth and crisp

Af: hits the tongue with a pungent citrus flavor, mostly lemony, bitter, lingers for awhile

O: not knowing the date of my bottle, i feel that i can't give a fair review, it's a well balanced west coast IPA.


 434 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,663 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.