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: 2,473 | Ratings: 13,712
Photo of dbossman
4.58/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Cloudy and orangish-yellow hue with a thin cream colored head; beautiful lacing

S: Very fruity aromatics from the hops: mango, lemon rind, pineapple, and grapefruit; also a fairly obvious but pleasant alcohol burn

T: Wow, really tropical: mango and pineapple; such a nice sweet tropical hoppiness sitting on top of a grainy malt backbone; way more tropical hops than the nose would indicate

F: A bit carbonated but it actually works pretty well here; good overall mouth feel

D: A really damn good IPA; alcohol (present in the aroma) is masked so well by the tropical fruitiness from the hops

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Photo of BZero007
4.35/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recieved as a extra from Tieman.

Poured this on NYE for a group tasting of big IPA fans. Everyone was very surprised of the great aroma and flavor. The brew when poured formed a perfect slight orange/white head. The beer it's self had me take a step back on the color. The color was a perfect Orange and yellow mixture but was absolutely clear. The aroma was great, with fruit mixture rising with a snappy background. The flavor was very hoppy and was bursting my senses. Tons of bitter hops accompanied by citrus and other fruit flavors. Was a most welcome brew that everyone enjoyed.

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

Bright orange color with a creamy white head that leaves plenty of sticky lacing.

The aroma is HOPS! Spicy, pine and citrus - a layered hop aroma that does not hide. The taste is similar - layers of hop flavors supported by an invisible but well balanced malt backbone. Sweet juicy flavors fad to a pleasant lingering bitterness, that invites another sip.

Juicy mouthfeel with just the right carbonation, and well hidden alchohol makes this brew highly drinkable, especially for the alchohol content.

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Photo of ms11781
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured into some sort of goblet/tulip hybrid at The Union Brewhouse in Weymouth, MA.

Pours a nice golden, yellowish, orange color with a minimal head (most likely due to the way beer is poured at said establishment), just a thin, half finger white head that sticks around. Nice lacing all the way down to the bottom of the glass.

Easily one of the very best smelling IPAs I've ever had. Huge citrus notes. Grapefruit, mango, multiple tropical fruits, orange, lemon. Such a strong, fruity, hoppy scent that almost no malt is detected at all, maybe a hint of some caramel but the fruit hops are so overwhelming I think I may be looking to hard for the malt and just imagining it.

The taste and the nose go hand in hand. Huge (and I mean huge) citrus hop flavor, definitely some citrus hops notes that I have never picked up (or at least aren't as forward) as other beers I've had. The slightest hint of pale malt, with more citrus and a slight bitterness. Really just a ton of hops, tons of different flavors and none too much or overwhelming.

Very light and smooth. Definitely leaves a bit of bitterness on the tongue but not much. I'd call it more than medium carbonation but I probably wouldn't call it high. Carbonation seems to lend to the beer feeling lighter than it probably is.

Drinkability is really high with this beer. With the amount of flavor and 7%ABV it walks the line between the higher IPAs and lower DIPAs, but 12 ounces were gone before I knew it.

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

Wow!! This is Avery Maharajah's civilized little brother. A blast of grapefruit hops in the nose and taste, but not as challenging and in-your-face as Maharajah. Pours a color half way between dull gold and light amber with an average size, slightly off-white head. Average retention and thick spotty lacing.

Aroma is pronounced and pleasing....citrus (grapefruit) hops and bitterness.

Flavor is hophead nirvana. Bitterness...grapefruit...smooth and civilized. This is a great IPA that is still accessible to those that do not usually wallow in hoppy goodness.

Mouthfeel is crisp and surprisingly light for the hop wallop it packs.

Drinkability is very good. I could keep drinking this until I ran into problems

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.95/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, 2011 is almost here...Crazy this year has gone so fast. Well, I loved the Ballast Point Big Eye IPA, so here goes the flagship Sculpin...

Pours a slightly cloudy amber with some mild carbonation. A couple fingers of soapy head rises to the occasion and quickly falls into a soft comforter of foam. Decent lacing. Strong, piney hop aroma cloacks you upside the face right away. VERY robust and forward. Lots of grapefruit, almost an ode to the fruit itself. That's is a dominant aroma, along with a bunch of pine. Well melded an unique given how much pine usually dominates the aroma profile for big IPAs. Flavor is wacky and not what I expected. I expected a much larger, in your face IPA. The flavors are substantially more well-balanced than most West Coast IPAs, which probably explains the universal acclaim for this particular brew. I love the blast of citrusy grapefruit in the flavor profile. It's a very "juicy" brew, and makes it quite drinkable and enjoyable. The hop character is not overpowering at all and is really well centered in the brew. It's very good. Looks like this is 7% ABV. The killer is the pricetag: $7.99/bomber - YIKES!! That keeps this from being as good as the Big Eye, in my opinion. Good beer, but too pricey for what it is.

What I like most: The wonderful balance in the flavor profile.

What I like least: The hefty price tag.

Verdict: You can find better-priced IPAs that are as good or better, but this is worth trying especially if you don't like over-hopped Lefty IPAs.

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

Very tasty beer however not worth the $10 for a 22OZ. Better off buying their Big Eye IPA ( $13-$14 a 6-pack) which is a staple in my fridge. I waited forever for my local Package Store to finally stock this. Needless to say, I was let down just a bit. After reading reviews and seeing how highly this beer is rated, I am a bit surprised as I do not feel it is any more special then their regular lineup of quality beers. Very good beer just not worth the $ in my eyes. I'll buy it again, just not something I'd pick up every time I go to the store.

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

Thanks to Decadance for the bottle. Review input from notes.

Clear yellow orange colored body capped with a two and a half finger bone white head. The head recedes leaving a rather impressive cap. Thick lacing left firmly attached to the glass.

Aroma is full of juicy citrus and tropical fruits. Subtly sweet pale malt is set behind providing a bit of balance. Very hop forward but the simplicity of the grain bill is appreciated.

The nose steers the tongue true, the taste is exactly what you would expect. Strong citrus and tropical fruit flavor. More subtle pith and floral contributions from the hops lay beneath. The malt base is rather soft but sturdy.

Medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Soft and creamy on the tongue with a finish which is rather dry

Sculpin drinks far too easy. It is unfortunate this beer does not make it into my area or I would pick it up on some sort of regular basis. Well crafted beer with great balance, outstanding example of the style.

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a large tulip glass 12/27/10.

A: Pours an orange-yellow in color with a large head, heavy lacing.

S: Citrus overpowers with a moderate pine aroma.

T: Hops dominated by citrus. Very strong taste with very little after taste.

M: Medium bodied. Light carbonation.

D: Relatively easy to drink, although I would prefer an IPA that is slightly more bitter with a slightly stronger after taste.

Comments: I have heard great things about this IPA. It was very good, but not on par with heavyweights such as the Heady Topper.

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

Thanks to mlaroche for this want extra of mine.

No date on the bottle.

Pours a golden color with a tinge of orange to it, decent sized head that fades fast but leaves a thin cap on top for awhile, small patchy lacing.

Smell has a good hoppy aroma, slightly piney with a hint of citrus, the malt backing adds some sweetness to the nose.

Taste has a good hop presence that has right the right amount of pine and citrus, it isn't overwhelming and the bitterness doesn't push me away either since it comes and goes quickly, crisp carbonation really helps this beer and makes me want to drink more and more, the sweet malt backbone is stronger than I would have expected though.

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Photo of chrisgn
4.65/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a brilliant golden color. Filtered with a foamy white head. Lacing remains up and down the glass. The aroma is nothing short of incredible. Citrus smells emanate from the glass.
Those citrus flavors come more evident in the flavor as it warms. This is a very clean beer that is all hop forward. Not much sweetness throughout and finishes dry and bitter. I really enjoy this light and crisp has much of the aroma and flavor of a DIPA without the oily body. This is an IPA you could enjoy a lot of!

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

Bomber fresh off the truck poured into a Duvel Tulip

A: Pours a hazy golden orange, 2-finger white foamy head that sticks around for a while. Decent lacing.

S: LOVE! overload of citrus; orange, tangerine, lemon, grapefruit, mango, peach, apricot, it's all there and melds into one awesome fruit bomb! I get a good helping of sweet malt mixed into the background.

T: Heaven in a bottle. Unbelievable fruit hops, everything is there. Tastes even better than it smells. The sweet malt perfectly balances the intense citrus hops and isn't overly caramel. There's a decent amount of hop bitterness in the background but it's almost hidden by the sweet malt and citrus. Alcohol is really well hidden and is just barely visible in the slight warming finish.

M: Low carbonation, medium body that is deceptive (seems more full than it actually is, if that makes sense). Chewy, a little sticky, has a great balanced aftertaste that's a perfect citrus bittersweet, just a tiny warming effect.

D: I'm savoring this one (my only bottle right now) but I can't keep the glass down for long. Possibly the best balance between full/bold taste and light body (doesn't seem light).

This is one beer I'm going to seek out and buy as much as I can. It's as good as the hype.

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

poured into a tulip


It is a light golden color that is slightly hazy. About 1 fingers worth of fluffy white head. This beer just looks like it would be crisp and refreshing.


An excellent aroma. The hops smell very fresh. Citrus hops such as grapefruit, orange, lemon. A little pine and flowery hops and a slight malt aroma in there. A solid smelling IPA.


stellar, just as the nose. The citrus notes are there, and the pine is so subtle...the touch of malts goes well with all the other flavors and gives it a wonderful finish. Just the right bitterness in here as well.


light to medium bodied with a great amount of carbonation. The finish in this beer is a tad dry, but it is extremely crisp, clean and refreshing.


I'd give this a 5 if i could, but this being a So Cal beer makes it difficult to find unless traded for. Probably the best American IPA I've had to date and will be pretty hard to top. Such a sessionable beer and feels more like a 4 or 5% ABV beer.

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Photo of sbauer
4.2/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A: Light yellowish amber. Thick clingy lacing.

S: Bright hops, citrus, light/sweet pine.

T: Smoke, wood, lemon, pine. Extremely long bitter hop finish, but not too sharp.

M: Medium-full bodied. Moderate carbonation.

D: Quite a hop bomb. Incredibly long finish with bitter hop flavor.

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Photo of bierguru
3.18/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A -
almost a clear straw color with high carbonation
head is pretty good stays well then laces fairly thick

S -
hop and citrus

T -
hop and finishes with a strong citrus dry bite

M -
mild feel with a drying to it

D -
its okay had better however better then most

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

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: clear, amber, honey colored body with a three fingered head thanks to a fairly aggressive pour. Excellent retention and some lacing.

Smell: hoppy, no malts to be found. Tropical, citrusy hops dominate. Fairly simple but fairly pungent.

Taste: follows the nose. Tropical, citrus hops dominate the taste and finish. I can't find any malt lingering in there. The hop profile seems closer to a DIPA than a standard IPA.

Feel: a bit sticky, medium bodied, moderate carbonation with a dry finish.

Drink: a bit weak on drinkability for me. Due to the fact that this is so hoppy means that this is a little less drinkable than I would like especially for the style.

Overall, a very solid beer. One thing I am beginning to believe in my beer tasting journey is that many beers in the top 100 do not live up the hype and this is one of them. I've had several IPAs that I would rank better than this but aren't in the top 100. Still, its good and worth a try but don't let the hype build up your expectations.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.79/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden hazy amber. With a think bubbly head.

the nose is full of mild fruits. peach/mango/mandarin mainly dominates the whole nose.some caramel backing.

very smooth with a slight hop punch up front that blends perfectly to some mango/peach flavors. Finishes with citrus hops flavor that blends into a nice earthy tone. These hops are very pronounced but very subtle. It's almost like it has been lagered.

It is hard to decide but I think I like the aftertaste better than the initial. The hops are so pungent but perfectly balanced.

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Photo of Sideswipe
5/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at my local pub. The beer presents itself in a pale orange golden hue. A finger of dense white foam dissipates quickly. Excellent lacing. The smell is pure citrus. Orange peel dominates followed by a slight hint of biscuity malt. Taste follows the nose. An explosion of orange, tangerine, and mango hits my pallet at first quaff. This is the juiciest IPA I've ever had! The hop bill sports seven different varieties yet the beer is perfectly balanced with a easing bitterness and subtle malt backbone. Finish is juicy, bitter and sweet all at the same time. Feel is medium bodied and carbonation is spot on. Drinkability is dangerously high due to the delicious taste and completely hidden ABV. This is quite honestly my favorite single IPA of all time. I have had it many times on tap, bottled and on cask and it never fails to please. Seek this out and enjoy!

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great honey golden orange color. Puffy dense white head, noticable lacing that slides down the sides of my tulip glass. The aroma is a blend of strong citrusy hops, grapefruit, pinapple and fresh cut grass. Really fresh, real nice. A hop explosion, grapefruit, citrus, tropical fruits and grassy undertones. Simple clean grain flavor. Long lasting lemon citrus bitter finish. Nice mouthfeel, not watery, not thin. And oh so drinkable.
NB. I do believe I personally prefer this to Pliny, that may be however due to how fresh this is.

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Photo of Ynot2
4.05/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden straw color into a snifter frome the bottle. Nice medium sized head that leaves a lot of lacing.

Nice citrus aroma full of hops.

Taste of hops and citrus, not overpowering, blends nice with malts. A piney finish with a touch of bitter aftertaste. Nothing that overpowers.

Mild carbonation at the most, slightly dry finish.

Easy to drink this beer. Smooth and not heavy at all.

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Photo of tchenery
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice active bright white head on top of a very clean and bright body of yellow/slight orange color. It really looks amazing. If you drew a picture of a beer, this is what it would look like.

I could smell this beer when I opened the bottle. On closer investigation it smells extremely pine-like. It almost smells like only pine, but then the grapefruit tangy citrus scent comes in as well. It almost smells like cleaning solvent, but in a really good over frangranced way (if that makes sense). Extremely fragrant and peppery.

It's like chewing a grapefruit on first sip. There are no other flavors but that of a morning grapefruit cut in half without the sourness. It really holds on to that the whole way through. Very interesting flavor. It blends into other tropical fruits and holds on to a very bitter, but light body.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light and dry. It is almost too much of all of these for my taste, but it's good nonetheless.

Very drinkable if you like the flavor. It's not extremely approachable, especially for the non craft drinker.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

One of the more celebrated IPAs on the market. A big shout goes out to Mulder1010 and STEG for hooking me up with bottles of this stuff. Cheers!

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a three finger, medium-thick, off-white head with great retention. Cloudy gamboge orange in color with zero carbonation evident. Head eventually fades to a thin wisp with lots of lacing sticking to the glass. A thin film remains and leaves touches of lacing all the way down.

SMELL: Pale malts, melon, and lots of citrus and grapefruit notes. Lemon and honeydew melon as well. Very fruity. Slight notes of floral hops in the background, but this is much more about the citrus and fruity aromas.

TASTE: Pale malts, melon, and some floral hops up front. Honeydew melon and lots of citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit, though not overly bitter. A hoppy, citrusy, and bitter grapefruit aftertaste is bolder and longer lasting for an IPA. Tasty stuff with plenty of bold flavors.

PALATE: Medium body and higher levels of carbonation. Lighter on the palate, but still creamy and smooth. Goes down smooth and finishes quite dry on the palate. Not as oily a finish as some, but still works well.

OVERALL: A great IPA for sure, and well worth the praise it gets. Lots of good flavors and quite bold for the style. Almost like a DIPA in that regard. The palate could be a little fuller and oilier perhaps, but that is a minor critique of what was otherwise a very enjoyable and drinkable, hoppy brew. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the style. Thanks again for the trades gents.

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

I've had this several times, but recently decided to get the pen out and do this beer some justice. Picked up a bottle from Boonton Liquor Outlet in Boonton, NJ.

Into a stemmed Stone IPA glass, it poured a cloudy gold with 2 fingers of white head, little visible carbonation, and great head retention and lacing. Smelled of grapefruit peel, lime, apple, and menthol. The taste was very nicely balanced; apple, grapefruit, menthol, and a slight grassy character dissolving to a bitter peel finish with slight dryness, and a good lingering but not overpowering bitter aftertaste. Very modestly carbonated and smooth, with the head retention aiding a slightly creamy feel. If I had to pick something to improve upon, it would be the finish, which didn't seem dry enough to match the flavor nuances, but that notwithstanding, this is an excellent beer.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.32/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split 22 ounce bottle with my buddy Griff, who brought it over to my place for some sampling yesterday. Review done from notes. Bottle was poured into my Kona Brewing shaker glass.

A: Hazy golden color with a nice thick white head on top.

S: The nose on this beer is addicting. It has a delightfully full (but not overpowering) smell of apricots, citrus, and hops.

T: The taste follows the nose. This beer is unlike any other IPA I've ever had. It's unique in that it's "hoppy", yet it just has so many delicate flavors balancing out over it's hop profile. It doesn't just punch you in the face with grapefruit and bitterness like a Stone Ruination. It's a unique balance of apricots, mangos, citrus, and even a little grapefruit from the hop oils. For me, the taste of apricot is prominant, but not "dominant". Nothing dominates here. Different hop flavors fade in and out, but nothing overwhelms.

M: Light and creamy in the mouth, and leaves a moderate amount of hop oils on the tongue with the finish.

D: Extremely high. I could easily drink this all night.

[EDIT]: I had to edit this beer on 1-11-2011 and dock it a few points for Taste and Drinkability, as since this review I have found this beer to be probably the most hit-and-miss IPA I've ever come across. With no freshness date on the bottle, I can't conclude that it's merely a freshness issue. In fact, I've had experiences at bars with fresh kegs that I still haven't been impressed with. So I am choosing to drop drinkability from a 5 to a 4. Sometimes this beer is so great it's nearly a religious experience, but equally often this beer disappoints me, and shows itself to be anything but exceptional. When "good", this is an extremely unique IPA, but there are other IPAs out there that are able to deliver with a far higher batting average than this one has.

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

A- Golden Hued with a Medium head.

S- Citrus hops all over, incredible!

T- Dry, slight malt presence, aggressive hop array exerts itself onto you. So crisp and pristine, it leaves you wanting more, like these hops are heroin.

M- Light bodied with the proper amount of carbonation to tantalize your tongue.

D- Really, you can't beat this beer. Just so good, so hoppy, but light enough you know you can pound them all night. My favorite single IPA hands down. Westcoast, I love you.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,712 ratings.
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