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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: 2,446 | Ratings: 13,523
Photo of orangesol
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on cask at Al's of Hampden into a nonic pint. This was the fuggle dry hop version.

A - Pours a deep, hazy, copper orange with a small one finger white head that leaves light, sticky, lacing down the glass.

S - HUGE hope aroma. Hints of grapefruit, tangerine, and other pungent tropical fruits. A slightly sweet aroma from the malt is a welcome addition to all those hops. One of the best smelling IPA's I have ever had.

T - Starts out sticky sweet thanks to the roasted malt but that gives way quickly to the HUGE amounts of hops. Hops are similar to the nose with grapefruit coming thru more than the others. The grassy hops are not as pungent as in the nose but are still plenty strong. An absolutely amazing cask offering from Ballast Point. How can I drink normal sculpin after having all of these cask versions?

M - Fairly smooth feel with medium-light body and flavor with moderate carbonation. It hides the 7% very well but the big bitterness takes its tole.

D - Near perfection. I could drink this every day for the rest of my life and be very happy. I have now had four different versions of cask Sculpin and this was my favorite, narrowly beating out the simcoe version.

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Photo of codewarrior
3.88/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber poured into a Chalice.

Many thanks to Smokepot23 for his generosity, have wanted to try this brew for a long while now.

L: Deep apricot and transparent, tons of frothy head.

S: Towering crisp hops with plenty of sweet behind to balance things out.

T: Slow start into a huge hit of hops, but not as hugs as one might expect. Slowly backs off into a lingering citrus sweetness. Balance is definitely on the sweeter side for the genre.

F: Good feel, nice carbonation, consistent. Just about rich in the thickness, touch thin if I had to split hairs.

D: Pretty damn good west coat IPA. Only problem here is that it doesn't stand up to some of it's California competition. Still, great brew here.

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Photo of Anaz
4.62/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer because it really expands upon what an IPA can be. The honey-gold color and thick head are lovely. The sharp aroma of hops is clean and powerful-spice, citrus, pine, and strange tropical aromas that I normally wouldn't expect burst from the glass.

The taste is so lush, but so clean it's really amazing. The flavors follow the aroma with a spare honeyed malt that is so delicate it weaves it's way through the hops rather comes through in fore or mid palate waves. The bitterness is refreshing and light, never too much, and not too little either.

The mouthfeel is full, yet light, with fine carbonation. This beer is very drinkable, and if not for the expense, I would have this on hand all the time. It's expensive for a single IPA, but you'd have to be miserly to think about that once the bottle has been opened and the first drop hits you lips.

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Photo of stakem
4.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On the hand pump at Al's. This was a fuggle dry hopped version.

Served in a nonic it appears a clear light golden color with a finger of creamy white foam. The head slowly fades from a finger's strength leaving a patchy coating atop the brew and patchy lace clinging to the glass.

The aroma coming out of this glass is absolutely mouth watering. It is a bouquet of citrus, flowers and herbs. It is notable how the fuggles really make this aroma noticeably more aromatic in an earthy and herbal sort of way with a grassy touch that is quite different from the normal version of sculpin.

The taste is quite grassy, herbal, earthy and somewhat minty. Amazing how different this one-off of sculpin is from the norm, I wonder just how much fuggles it took to transform this. I keep going back to this brew and smelling it twice before taking a sip. I don't know what that means but I really like it. Despite all the hop character there is still a sweetness with a floral aspect to be found in the taste. What little grain character comes through is noted with a toasty quality before the onset of the herbal bitterness that lasts inside the mouth with serious clinging power.

This is a fantastic one-off of one of my favorite IPA's. It is medium to almost light bodied with an acceptably low level of carbonation. Very easy drinking with the alcohol almost completely suppressed. About the only gripe I have with this brew is that it is at times a little watery but that doesn't stop me from emptying this glass at an alarming rate. Very well done.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.08/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

09/19/10- Had a bottle of this courtesy of Pabs311.
A: Hazy amber, nice cream head dies to a good film.
S: Nice mix of hops: grass, grapefruit, resiny pine; honey and mild fruit (like strawberries) come through as well.
T: Very bitter, resiny, with a cheese finish. There are roasted walnuts, honey and pale malts. It is clean and mild but overly bitter (unbalanced).
M: Slightly syrupy, but with a good frothiness.
D: Good, while being very bitter.

I had another chance to try this beer over this past weekend (06/18/11) in a bomber that was most certainly fresh. My description of this beer in this review is good, but my ratings are overly high. Smell was changed to 3.5 from 4.5. Taste was changed from 3.5 to 2.5. Drinkability was changed from 3.5 to Overall 3.0. One glass was more than enough and my group was fighting over who would draw the short straw to finish the bottle. This was a disappointing brew and I probably won't get it again.

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

A - A somewhat cloudy gold. Good head which looks like some good malt. Some decent lacing.

S - Amazing smell! Very powerful, yet not overdone. Citrus and pine.

T - Piny/hops with the sweetness of grapefruit and possibly some pineapple.

M - A perfect amount of carbonation for a very smooth feel.

D - Just great! This is a beer I will look foward to having again for time to come. I could sit back on this for a long time. Thanks to Duff for getting it to me!!!

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

Appearance - Nice ochre-amber

Smell - Incredible tropical fruit and hop. Better than Pliny the Elder.

Taste - Citrus and pine hops. Dry but not astringent. Lingering bitterness. Tremendous.

Mouthfeel - Medium body.

Drinkability - Very easy to drink. A wonderful beer.

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Photo of Derek
4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Golden bronze with a huge white head, great retention & lace.

S: Tangerine, nectarine, orange, floral, pine and grass, great hop nose.

T: Nectarine, tangerine, mandarine, mango, hints of pine & grass. Biscuit & toffee from the malt, good bitterness (I expected a little more), alcohol well-hidden.

M: Moderate body is smooth with some hop acidity.

D: Where's the sting? I think this is an easy drinker!

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

Fresh growler from Brass Rail.

Golden color with a big creamy soap bubble head. Head sticks to the glass like glue and does not go away. Color is a little lighter than expected but there is nothing wrong with that.

Smell is a blast of citrus and pipe. Slips into grapefruit range, which is my favorite flavor in an IPA. Smell has me looking forward to that first sip.

First taste doesn't disappoint. Citrus up front and then it slips into oily pine. Very good.

This is one of those few beers that's been able to live up expectations lately. This one didn't let me down and has me looking forward to the full growler.

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Photo of awalk1227
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed 11/5/10 ...found this gem sitting by itself at a liquor store!

Poured into Firestone Walker pint glass

A: Brilliant yellow with a crisp white head, very pretty in the light. It glows!

S: Wow, all tropical fruits here. Oranges, pineapple, grapefruit in the background. Can't really get any pine, but it's a pleasure to whiff. As it warms a bit and I pour more from the bomber, I get whiffs of stinky pot? Yeah, I think that's what it is.

T: Begins with a creamy mouthfull that immediately put a bittering feel on my tongue. It mellows out into a slight caramel malt, and finishes with the grapefruit and pine an IPA is known for. However, I feel like I got a slight prickle of alcohol on the finish, which was both unpleasant and startling to me. What is this? I think my palate may be acting weird on this one.

F: Like the bottle says, surprisingly light. very crisp though. A tiny bit of prickle on the tongue. Bitter feel from the hops but not overly so.

D: There's more at the liquor store. I may go back and get more.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.83/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Purchased at City Beer in San Fran for $8.99

A: very nice amber-orange color, slightly cloudy - great creamy head
S: strong and full of hops - brimming with grapefruit
T: very good from a CA IPA, good malt - strong hop finish - perfumy, grapefruit with a kick of bitterness at the back of the tongue
M: very nice, good malt up front then floral and fruity, spicy hops and finishes with bitterness
D: good but too hoppy for my pallet to drink a lot

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Photo of kazmaniac
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Nice generous, off-white foamy head which leaves a lot of lacing. The beer has a cloudy amber appearance.

Smell - Strong grapefruit hop aroma.

Taste - Pleasantly dry and bitter with intense hops that tend towards a pine-grapefruit flavor. Smooth with a good mouth feel. Enough malt to balance the taste although definitely leans towards the hops. Clean finish. This description sounds way too close to the one I made for Stone's IPA yet they are very different animals. While the Stone was very good, it just seemed a little unsophisticated. I kept wondering why I couldn't seem to put the glass down. The Sculpin seems much more balanced and there's no wondering why I can't leave it alone.

Mouthfeel - Medium body.

Drinkability - Surprisingly easy to drink and a great IPA. I'm relatively new to finding IPAs enjoyable and I have Sculpin and Pliny the Younger to thank for it.

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

Appearance - This came out a gorgeous darkish-orange in color with incredible clarity and a wonderful sheen. The head was perfectly perched on an easy pout. As it slowly went down it left a thick film all along my mug. This is a real beauty shop.

Smell - Hop damn! This almost has to be dry-hopped because the hops are so fresh and pure like you just picked them from the field. The nice pine resin, which usually overshadows all other hop aromas, here is mated perfectly with some monstrous grapefruit and light orange peel. These smells all come together in a raunchy hop bouquet that leaves little chance for the light malt base to be appreciated.

Taste - Surprisingly the hops aren't toned down too much at the taste. This is a hop-burping factory I can tell already. The orange comes on much bigger now and really smoothes out the flavors.

I'm actually going to give a thumbs up to the grain bill here. Most people drinking this won't even notice it because the hops are so big, but the grain knew how and when to take a backseat here without being completely absent. Although I didn't get much from it at the nose, you could crank this down to 20 IBUs and have a nice-tasting beer. The grain is soft, very fresh like the hops, not grossly sweet, and give off a wonderfully light almost cereal flavor.

Mouthfeel - This is medium-bodied, maybe a tad lighter, with some smart carbonation and a very smooth character in between the cheeks. Although I enjoy a bitter beer, what I appreciated so much about this mouthfeel is that for all the hops it wasn't bitter at all. This made it amazingly easy to guzzle - hahaha! Usually a beer with such a huge hop profile takes a week to finish but the lack of bitterness here kept the suds flowing.

Drinkability - I kind of touched on it when reviewing the mouthfeel but boy o boy was this an easy-drinking ale. I don't think I've ever had a beer with this much hop flavor go down this easily. It is one of a kind and a must-try for any IPA enthusiast. This raises a standard that few if any will ever match.

Comments - I've handed out a lot of 4.5s in my day and more than my share of 5.0s, but as far as Drinkability goes this is the most drinkable hop bomb I've ever had. For the first time in almost 2,000 reviews I wish I could assign a 6.0 rating to something. You really have to drink this beer to believe it.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an orange pour of something quite nice in the nose. a textbook balance of all the aspects of an IPA. Orange clear with a nice white head. there is retention. nose is a perfect balance of malt pollen, floral hop, and citrus fruit. otherwise the body seems to be just that. its right in the middle. textbook. feel is a bit soapy. grapefruit...

an all around balance of an IPA but not something that is characterized as uniquely great or number one. it may be a regional thing but i've had some better IPA's in the midwest. this is a good one to set examples too... but doesn't have any accent.

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from blinded tasting notes.

A. Pours yellow with a white head that leaves lacing.

S. Piney with some citrus peel.

T. Flavor profile matches the smell.

M. Good level of carbonation.

D. Very good - I'll definitely try to get this again.

Winner of round 1 blinded IPA tasting (over Red Racer and Stone)

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Photo of dstc
4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy copper with a thick white head. Head falls very slow. Thick, clinging lace.

Aroma is all floral hop awesomeness. Getting a bit of an herbal flavor and hints of pine needles.

Taste is of strong hop and flowers. Very bitter but with a slight sweetness. Great stuff.

Medium bodied and very biting. Oily mouthfeel.

Good stuff. Awesome IPA.

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Photo of acurtis
4.09/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ballast Point Sculpin, 22oz bomber picked up at Liquor Outlet Wine Cellar. Pours beautiful hazy orange color with large white head in shaker. Head sticks to glass nicely. Great aroma of grapefruit and hops. Super citrus flavor, clean malt base. Light, smooth and silky. Very drinkable, this is a superb brew. I was worried that the bottle may not be fresh but that was put to rest the moment I open the bottle and poured it. It smelled excellent before I could even get my nose near the glass.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12th review on BA
Bottle poured into mug

App- Very rich colored orange with yellow highlights. 2 1/2 finger creamy head with lots of carbonation to it.

Smell- So much fruit. Its got apricot right from the start peach and mango. It was like being at a fruit buffet

Taste- Very robust hipe with a nice spice at the finish. Very big beer in my opinion. The 2nd sip was more fruit to the taste. Very clean and controlled flavors.

Mouth- Crisp, clean and savory. Bursting with fruit and hops on my palate.

Drink- It's very good. It goes down well and has a nice aftertaste. Like I said its a big bomber and I dont know if I could take down 2 in a sitting. It was a great beer.

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

Ballast Point is a new arrival in Florida. I'm eager to try the much-hyped Sculpin.

Pours a light gold color with a lovely foamy white head.

It's got that big, classic West Coast citric hop aroma with earthy notes.

The flavor is all about the hops. Big bitter notes mix with woody, earthy, tea-like and citrus hop notes. A hint of malt provides a slight sweet balance to the beer.

The body is lighter than I expected, but I see from the 22-ounce bottle's label that Ballast Point says it's supposed to be lighter.

This is a beer that lives up to its hype. Like Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, Sculpin is in that gray area between IPA and double IPA Hopheads, seek it out.

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

this must be fresh because it sports the black label.
poured a straw yellow with a 2 finger foamy white head that lingers for a good 5 minutes. medium carbonation.
floral notes of mango lemon zest and fresh pine. very inviting. wonderful smells all raound.
starts off with the great balance of pine and grapefruit. bitter of course but mellows out. well balanced and refreshing.
great beer all around. i will seek this out when i have a chance on draft.

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Photo of DeanMoriarty
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a light copper/golden hue with a fat head and thick lace from start to finish with a good amount of effervescence.

S: Big citrus spiciness, tons of sappy pine and fresh cut grass - there's some sweet malt at the end, but the hop runs the show.

T: Similar to the smell with tons of resinous hop, grapefruit rind, just a small amount of malt which is nice as it doesn't take away from the amazing hop flavor - it just adds a nice touch to the perfectly rounded flavor of this ale.

M: Well carbonated, medium-bodied (but on the lighter side), crisp and clean.

D: These go down like nothing and if you're not careful the 7% ABV will catch up with you over an evening of drinking these tasty little guys.

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Photo of Duff27
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours an orange or a dark golden with a slight red hue. Half-inch white head. Plentiful lacing. Magnificent.

S- Is "fresh" a smell? Wonderful floral hop notes. Wow.

T- Citrus...more specifically grapefruit. Pine. Hop spice. Hint of pineapples which is my favorite fruit, hmm.

M- Very creamy. Has a fantastic bite to it.

D/O- I'm overwhelmed at how good this IPA is. Don't know if this comes in 12 ounce bottles but when I asked if there were any in the back I was told "well, let's see if we have any big bottles of it." Luckily, they did have a few bombers on the shelf. I just want to thank all the BA's (especially Bob from the GLBF...don't know his BA name) that recommended this beer on a seemingly daily basis. Definitely worth making a special stop to check if a place 3 hours from home has it. I'm in IPA euphoria right now. Life is good.

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Photo of ncredible1
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A. Golden Orange Hue with impressive lacing. This is one good looking IPA

S. Super juicy grapefruit and tropicals (Pineapple,Mango,Tangerine)in the smell and flavor profile. This is probably the best smelling IPA I've ever had.

T. The taste is similar to the smell but with a heap of bitter hops. Grapefruit, pine, and more sweet tropicals. Some sweet pale malts round this beer out nicely. Definitely a sweeter IPA,and a great introduction to an IPA for those who have yet to attempt an IPA. The tast just keeps you coming back for more. Awesome!

M. The mouthfeel is superb. Hidden ABV. Just a well balanced Hoppy to Malt ratio.

D. A wonderfully crafted IPA, and the best one that I have tasted to date. This was a very pricey 22 oz. But if you are into the grapefruit tast of an IPA this hands is the winner.

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Photo of busternuggz
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 pint glass.
Beautiful clear golden-orange color with a foamy 1/2" off white head, dies down to 1/4" with good retention. Leaves soapy lacing.
Smells awesome, particularly as it warms a little. Tangerine, floral notes, passion fruit, pine, apricot, and mango. Seems like I get something different each time I smell it.
Nice juicy tastes of orange, lemon, apricot, and a little pineapple and mango with grapefruit coming out on the dry finish. The hop flavors are complex and not overpowering with just enough malt backing.
Very nice texture, medium bodied and smooth, even a little creamy as it gets warmer. Ends light and dry but at the same time feels like it leaves a juicy coat on my tongue.
Very drinkable, tasty and engaging, smooth and balanced.
With this praise in mind, it seemed like this year's batch was just a little more subdued than last year's. Still an excellent IPA though, probably my favorite.

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

Wow. great beer. poured from bomber. the color is so nice: orange/peach color. great carbonation with an awesome head. smells like peaches and citrus with some hops. extreme pleasant smell. the taste is incredible. great hops, and some initial peach flavor. how a great ipa should be. mouth is crisp with a very clean finish. i drank the whole bomber, and this was a very easy thing to do.

great beer. cant wait to have it again.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,523 ratings.
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