Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
2,437 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: 2,437 | Ratings: 13,468
Photo of paulys55
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally got around to trying this gem. Shared a few with my brother. Bomber poured into Duvel tulip. Two fingers of pillowy head sit on top of a beautiful orange, golden body. Smell is floral and citrus leaning on the citrus. As I let this fish swim on my tongue, the pineapples, peaches and citrus goodness fills my mouth and goes down clean leaving nice sticky lacing on my glass. Dangerously drinkable and just solid all around.

 431 characters

Photo of Brew33
4.19/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first Sculpin! I've been wanting to try this beer for some time, glad I was able to score a couple bombers.

The appearance is fine, nothing special. The aroma is damn good. It's insanely tropical. Big, juicy, tropical fruits. Those mangoes and oranges don't translate all that much in the flavor. A very light malt profile (which I prefer in IPA's) and a pronounced bitterness start you off. The flavor is very crisp, and you get very little lingering bitterness. It's so clean! Medium bodied. I'd like a little more "sticky" but it was good. The drinkability is high. No sign of the abv and it finishes so clean.

Probably a Top 10 IPA for me.

 650 characters

Photo of blackie
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: shaker pint, golden amber in color, served with a creamy layer of carbonation that retains well

s: fresh, vivid hop aromas of citrus oils and deep tropical fruits on a nice clean malt base, lightly sweet, pungent, great hop profile pushed to the front

m: lively carbonation, smooth but functioning well to spread the flavors around, body ranging light to medium

t: lots of hoppy citrus, grapefruit, passionfruit, pale malt body with a light caramel sweetness, favoring juicy hops over malt depth, satisfyingly bitter - but not gratuitously so

d: it's not the hoppy revelation that I might have expected, but it's a top tier ipa by my standards, easily drinkable

draft at Galaxy Hut

 689 characters

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into oversized tulip. Beer was bright golden orange, with a little bit of haze. The aggressive pour created a smokestack of light creamy head, which took a good while to recede. The nose was aroma rich - predominantly grapefruit/tropical fruit, with a little bit of pineyness behind it.

Taste was great. Initially there was bitterness - like a bite from a pink grapefruit, but it didn't take long for that to fade into sweeter fruitiness with a resinous pine finish. The beer was medium bodied, well carbonated and magically delicious.

 560 characters

Photo of Estocker
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a bottle into my 30th anniversary taster tulip.

The nose on this beer is unmatched by anything I've ever come across. There is an intense bouquet of citrus, a slight floral aroma, and a hint of pine. The grapefruit takes over the nose and leaves me excited to try the first sip.

After my first sip, I am slightly disappointed, but not because it isn't delicious, the nose just leaves so much to be desired that I can't imagine that anything could live up to it. This is my 2nd favorite (i)IPA to date, and I give it props for competing so well with PtE. The taste is phenomenal and if you're in the mood for a tasty yet not-overpowering citrus bomb I can't believe anything could be better.

 705 characters

Photo of jbowers56
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to Mulder1010 for the hookup.

What a great looking beverage. Huge just off white head that slowly dissapates. A wonderful sliiightly hazy golden colour.

The nose is superb. Pine, grapefruit, some citrus zest, sherbert and some caramel. Jumps out at you as soon as you pop the top.

Great flavours. All that citrus is there. A little less of the sherberty flavours and maybe a touch more pine. The caramel is there to balance out the substantial bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full, and moderately carbonated. A really great IPA.

 532 characters

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

22oz bomber poured in my favorite pizza port pint glass.

a - pours a lovely light copper with amazing thick lacing that sticks around. not too carbonated but right where i like my ipa's.

s - pine cone, mango, pineapple, grapefruit and lemon zest are all there. this is what i guess heaven will smell like if there is one.

t - the balance of hops is amazing. a big blast that cascades to an elegant bitterness in the finish.

m - creamy and light without the cloying bitterness that one finds in so many west coast ipa's.

d - i could easily drink sculpin all night long. my favorite aipa next to nelson and blind pig.

 621 characters

Photo of yourefragile
4.67/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A new 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

I've been holding off on reviewing a bottle of this until I had what I considered to be a sufficiently fresh bottle in hand. The 22s I've picked up in PA have always been good, but lacked the "magic" of a fresh keg. I just picked up a 6 pack of the new black label bottles so I figured this was as fresh as I'll find a bottle at retail around here. These bottles didn't disappoint with the freshest, hoppiest tasting iteration I've ever had of this not on tap. Aroma is ripe with pine and tropical fruits, while the flavor follows through with a thick, soft body and balanced sweet and bitter pineapple and grapefruit hop attack. Fresh, this is my favorite AIPA, and this sample didn't disappoint.

 740 characters

Photo of klkatz
3.99/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

served from a 22-oz bottle into a pint glass... moments before the Eagles/Texans game. Go Birds!

smell - YES! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout... that's the smell an American Style IPA should have... hops, floral, grapefruit... all this before pouring the bottle... it explodes out of the bottle like an anxious genie. (I give it a 5)

Appearance - looks crisp... honey in color... transparent, like apple juice. Thick white head... like my college baseball coach, Ace Brogna. He had a thick head of white hair. (4)

Taste - Bitter. You want bitter? You can't handle bitter. After the first sip I think: "t's a good tasting beer, but I think I've had better." Second sip: Nutty flavor? still crisp like expected and bitter.... could be balanced better.

The mouthfeel is strong. It sticks with you, until your next sip.

Drinkability - I'm not going wild over it... it's going down, but not as smooth as I'd like. Maybe it's a summer beer... it's 34 degrees in Philadelphia tonight... maybe I should have a porter.

 1,013 characters

Photo of cadaugherty
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Generous extra courtesy of petecz, thanks man.

Served in my Great Divide IPA glass.

Appearance- Almost a copper/gold color with a lovely rich head off of a slightly aggressive pour. Great carbonation running out of the bottom.

Aroma- You guessed it, Citrus. I smell nothing but grapefruit, for me this is a big plus.

Taste- Great hop profile in the taste and wonderful bitter bite at the end. If there was a little more malt backbone this would be a 5 but there we are.

Mouthfeel- not to thick, not to thin. Good carbonation feel.

Drink- For a very hop forward IPA this is a remarkably drinkable beer. Best of all it doesn't leave a film your mouth the way some IPAs tend to.

 681 characters

Photo of birchstick
4.57/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a hazy dark yellow with a tint of copper

S - HUGE hits of grapefruit & citrus hops with a bit of a caramel base - very sweet and very nice!

T - the nose translates very well to the palate. This is a hop bomb and isn't shy about being one. Loads of grapefruit and citrus hops blast your tongue from the start. Throughout the middle (and subtly through start and finish) are some caramel malts that lay a solid base and complement the sweet citrus hops well. The finish is some grapefruit rind. For the most part pretty one dimensional, but that's what it is supposed to be. Solid stuff!

M - a little thin, but what is there is creamy and smooth

D - one of the better IPAs I have tried (I can't believe this isn't a DIPA). In your face hops from the nose to the finish let you know that this beer isn't messing around. Great IPA - up there with the best of them.

 874 characters

Photo of nhindian
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle provided as an extra by thedindaniel. Thanks Daniel! Just received it today and decided to drink it ASAP to get the most freshness out of it.

12oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

I've seen this around a few times at one of my spots in Pittsburgh, but always passed since it had the old label and no date on it. However, this one has the new label and is a 12oz bottle, so I'm assuming it's relatively fresh even though it still has no date on it.

A - Pours a murky, sandy yellow with a nice 2-fingered, foamy white head on it. Retention is pretty low; it only lasts for a couple minutes before disappearing almost entirely. Can't see much carbonation, but the lacing is very pretty.

S - The smell is completed dominated by citrus and grapefruit. I can almost smell a perfectly ripe, juicy grapefruit due to the intense aroma. Reminds me of a tropical getaway, a far-cry from the wet pine tree smell of some other (D)IPAs (Pliny). Hops also add a nice floral component. Bitter as well but in a pleasing way.

T - Taste is straight citrus. A bombardment of pineapple, orange, grapefruit, lemon and other assorted fruits tickle the palate and keep everything nice and light. Surprisingly, there isn't much bitterness at all, just some slightly in the aftertaste. Speaking of the aftertaste, I can't exactly pinpoint it, but there seems to be something just a tad out of balance. Something that feels a bit off on the roof of the mouth.

M - Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Relatively dry given the intense hop profile and leaves a noticeable bitter aftertaste.

D - Drinkability is high. Even given the off-balance in the finish, it's easily drinkable and the alcohol is masked well. The fruits in this beer really shine and help distinguish it from other hop bombs on the market.

I don't know how fresh this beer was, but I'd really like to try both this and Pliny side by side superfresh and see which I prefer better. Hopefully in January when BP dates their bottles. But as of now, I enjoyed Pliny a bit better than this.

 2,056 characters

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

appearance: golden color with good head retention

smell: nice strong piney aromas

taste: lopsided to the hops side. my style.. but depsite all the wonderful pine flavors it seemed to be lackign in complexity. probably could of used a tad of malt flavor...

mouthfeel: medium bodied

drinkability: a good beer to put up against pliny but just not as solid overall. anyways great hop head ipa.

 393 characters

Photo of DJED69
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding IPA. This one ranks in the upper echelon with PtE, Hop Stoopid, Racer 5, etc, etc. Friend stopped by unexpectedly with a bomber bottle and I was more than happy to help split it. Pours a bright pale/light orange color with nice head and foever lacing. Smells wonderful---fresh hops, pine, fruit, etc. Taste follows suit with a creamy bitterness and dry finish. Very different than BP's Big Eye IPA which is much more malt dominated. The malt in Sculpin seems very minimal or light. Easily one of the best IPA's I've had the pleasure of drinking. Too bad bomber bottles are so pricey --- $8-10 locally.

 613 characters

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

Terrific beer in the vein of modern IPAs that use primarily late addition hopping for maximum hop flavor and minimal bitterness. This seems to be the trick for converting people that say they don't like hoppy beers, and even paves the way to eventually liking the beers with more hp bitterness.

Lots of fresh sweet juicy citrus peel and blossom flavors that remain light enough on the pallet to make drinking pleasant and possible. Some residual bitterness accumulates on the finish as you work your way through.

Smooth creamy mouthfeel that was medium-light bodied.

Too bad this is so expensive relative to similar tasting beers ($9.99 per 22 oz. bomber vs. $9.99 for a 72 oz. six pack of Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin' Sumpn").

 724 characters

Photo of babaracas
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber with lots of fine sediment, two finger foamy white head that fades to a thin cap leaving a few splotches of lace. Smell: a blast of bright pineapple, grapefruit rind, nectarine, light biscuit. Taste: pineapple, soft tropical fruit notes, peach + lemon tea, biscuity base. Light-medium bodied with prickly carbonation. According to their website this is year round now, and FL is a new market so I presume this is fairly fresh. A very good IPA, I see why it is highly regarded... there are a few other beers with *very* similar profiles that are rated far below this one though, so the (prior) limited availability has likely influenced the rating.

 667 characters

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

Thanks to hophead247 for throwing this in. Poured bomber into an IPA specialty glass.

A: Poured out a classic "Heathcliff" orange in color, little cloudy with a nice inch or so off-white head and brilliant lacing to follow.

S: Nose to the cap with an intake of citrus and juicy hoppy goodness. After the pour I got: tangerine, grapefruit, and lemon zest. Very easy on the nose, 5 star.

T: The citrus in this hits you right away. Then you get the pungency of the hops in the back, its truly a one way beer in all regards. 5 star

M: Medium in body, sticky, very nicely carbonated, abv very well hidden given the circumstance.

D: One of the best in the style.

 663 characters

Photo of kinged8th
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a growler of this from my local shop. Was really impressed with it. Great appearance! Pours a hazy golden color with a nice head that left a decent lace. Mouthfeel of citrus and pine. Excellent hop presence which is what I like. I would like the mouthfeel to be a little more heavy. Overall, believe all the hype behind this beer. Though it is over priced, its well worth it. Too bad its not readily available round here.

 431 characters

Photo of aubuc1
4.12/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured in to a goblet.

Pours a slightly hazy yellow/orange with a white fizzy head.

Huge grapefruit resiny smell. Can't be beer in this.

Taste is a sharply bitter, biscuity with a very dry finish. This doesn't taste fresh, as the biscuit is more pronounced than I would expect from a great ipa.

Mouthfeel is very goood, and this is a very well crafted beer.

I cannot say it is great, because it tastes like a 6 month old ipa. Smells great, but the hop taste has faded.

 486 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy golden color, with a huge foamy white head. Nice retention, stays with the beer the whole way, along with some sticky lace.

Smell: Great floral hoppy smell, some cooling pine, and a splash of juicy citurs as well.

Taste: Starts with a candy sweet bready malt, quickly taken over by the robust hop bill. Floral, pine, and apricot and mango citrus. The pine almost turns into a cool mint flavor. Finishes slightly bitter.

Mouthfeel: The simcoe hops help to provide a cooling sensation on the tongue, with the dry hopping providing a tingling sensation on the tongue. Good, crisp, slightly creamy carbonation with a slightly above medium body. Finishes pretty clean.

Drinkability: This is a great IPA, in pretty much every category. Hopefully these bottles will be regularly available in Chicago soon.

 881 characters

Photo of timtim
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

very nice... a lot of hype about this one, and it pretty much lives up to it. just a simple, delicious san diego ipa. pours a fairly clear, glowing burnt-gold with a big white head that never goes away and leaves tons of lace as the beer goes. nose is fruit galore mixed with a nice, pale malt backbone that lends mild sweetness and blends and harmonizes just about perfectly. the malt character amplifies the hop profile instead of simply adding tons of sweetness to mellow the harsh flavor of tons of hops like other less-finessed ipas from ballast point's neck of the woods. mango, peach, nectarine, melon, citrus, pine and resin (read: pot) all with a really bright, pure, fresh-fruit-juice-on-the-beach-in-SoCal quality. speaks of the place where it comes from. unmistakeable. that awesome ocean-air-tropical-paradise thing that you get from the best SoCal ipas. taste is well-balanced, and like the nose suggested, the fruity hops (and yeast?) incorporate extremely well with the pale malt, which produces some sweetness and a touch of toastiness. some pineyness comes through in the end as well, and it kind of zips it up rather than bitters it up. medium body that seems to effortlessly carry the weight of all the hoppy goodness. another example of how well-chosen the grain bill is here. long, hoppy finish that is very mild on the bitter and virtually free of any alcohol taste or aftertaste. i've kind of grown out of my ipa phase, but this one was really well made, tasted like san diego in a bottle and definitely left me wanting more. a real treat. sets the bar as far as i'm concerned.

 1,601 characters

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

22oz bomber poured into a pint glass.

A: Light orange body. Big two-finger head that leaves lots and lots of lacing.

S: A practical cornucopia. Peaches, mangoes, grapefruits, the works. Also a bit of pine. Incredible.

T: The bitterness is strong but not harsh. I think I detect some lemon notes. Some grassiness. Malt seems a bit biscuity.

M: Medium-bodied, slightly bready, medium carbonation.

D: This is a very good IPA, but I feel like it fell just short of the hype. I'd put Union Jack above it. Still, worth seeking out if you like hops.

 547 characters

Photo of mulder1010
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a globe glass.

A-- Poured the typical IPA color, yellow gold. Lots of carbonation bubbles and beautiful head to this. Head stayed at about a solid two finger level. Well compacted, tight head to this. Just a little off white in color. Good, thick lacing on the sides of the glass.

S-- Mango, passionfruit, fresh citrus and a little bit of pine. Great nose and so full of flavors.

T-- Candied grapefruit, turns to fresh grapefruit, turns to pine and Carmel. YUM.

M-- Got how the grapefruit turns to several different flavors. Also get lemon, a bit of grass and then to bitter pine and grapefruit at the end. Long lasting pine and grapefruit flavor. Medium high carbonation and very creamy. The way the flavors change is excellent.

D-- Excellent. great beer. Well hidden ABV and for an IPA can have several of these. Bomber size is easy to put down. 12 oz bottles mean 4 is easy to do. Best IPA I have had due to the drinkability.

 959 characters

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

Nice solid head and plenty of lacing. The color is a pretty standard gold/amber for an IPA but there is an amazing amount of bubbles.

The smell is sweet of grapefruit and citrus not much pine to it.

The taste is bitter as it touches your tounge but soon changes to very smooth and fruity and it goes down your throat.

This beer is talked up a decent amount and I must say it does not disappoint. A little on the pricy side about $8-$9 but it is a great IPA.

 461 characters

Photo of gatornation
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from a 12 0z bottle it poured a slightly hazed golden yellow color with a fresh white 1 finger head that stayed with good lacing on side of glass really fresh looking..smell was pine forest with citrus and tropical fruits just bursting with hops. ..taste was crisp pine with loads of tropical hops..mango,pineapple tastes fill the pallet and just resonate full hop flavor ...then grapefruit and and floral hops..malts were there also..mouth feel crisp and fresh well carbonated and full of tropical hops..drink ability is outstanding this bottle was extremely fresh so full of hop flavor really one of the top 5 ipas ive had

 624 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,468 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.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!