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Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

2,416 Reviews
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Sculpin IPASculpin IPA

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

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Originally named Northstar IPA. Debuted in 2005.

Added by brentk56 on 04-02-2006

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Reviews: 2,416 | Ratings: 13,321
Photo of steveganz
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

At only 7% ABV, this crisp hop bomb has the explosion of flavor usually reserved for an Imperial IPA.

My first impression a few months ago, when only getting a little taste, was that it warranted further investigation. When I got around to enjoying a couple of bombers, I fell in love.

With Pliny the Elder in such short supply, this is not simply just a worthy substitute, but a star that shines on its own. As a matter of fact, when I put the two side-by-side last night, I have to say that I enjoyed the Sculpin more. There...I said it.

This makes its debut in the top 3 of my all time favorite IPAs.

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter on 9/4/10

Much appreciation to PDXHops for the fresh Sculpin hookup

Bright, with extreme clarity, Sculpin is apricot/amber in color. This is a sharp looking beer. Pours one finger of foam that dissipates after several minutes. A bubbly skim & sporadic, droopy lace are left. Swirling revives some head retention. I some into a tulip; lacing was a touch better.

The aroma is simply phenomenal; it's a veritable fruit cocktail of tropical, hoppy excellence. Tangerine, peach, mango, lemon zest, apricot & hints of grapefruit. The hops are vibrant & juicy. Nips of pine here & there. Not much malt going on, just faint a toasty bread note. The aroma is more assertive than from the bottle I had earlier this year.

Sculpin boasts outrageous hop flavor, moderate bitterness & excellent dryness. Notions of pine underpin the strong citric hops; both of which work wonders together. Notes of tangerine, peach, nectarine, apricot with hints of grapefruit & lemon zest. It's a choice balance of hop flavor & bitterness; something of a controlled explosion. Malts are even less apparent that in the aroma.

The feel is pretty incredible, too. Maybe a touch lighter than medium bodied with fairly ample carbonation, especially when cold. Eschewing vigorousness, the carbonation is lively, accenting the hop flavors. An abundance of tropical tones linger on the finish.

Drinkability is superb. Out of a bottle of undetermined age, this was great. Fresh, from a growler, Sculpin is one of the finest I've tried from the IPA family. Thanks Jeff!

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Photo of flagmantho
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a mug.

Appearance: medium brassy orange hue with a touch of haze. Head is two thick fingers of fluffy ivory foam. Not a bad looking brew.

Smell: bight citrus hops with a little bit of underlying funk. I can also just get a little bit of malt underneath the big hop bill. This is a good smelling beer, and I like it, but I'm not blown away.

Taste: good, bitey, piney, citrusy and dusky hops. In addition to this, bitterness is pretty extreme; there is no balance at all (this isn't necessarily a bad thing). I really do like the dynamic blend of hop flavors, though. A very solid IPA.

Mouthfeel: medium body with an appropriate level of carbonation. Pretty good, but nothing fantastic here.

Drinkability: a bright and pretty intense IPA. Normally I call citrusy IPAs refreshing, but I won't go so far with the Sculpin. It doesn't set out to be refreshing; just a bastard of a hop bomb, and at this it succeeds.

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Photo of californiakulak
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this beer on Tap at a pizza place in my town.

A. Light amber color. Clear with a thick off white head. Good, thick lacing.

S. Citrus and pine scents. Fresh baked bread scents and some slight apple scents.

T. Tasty beer. Hops and malt are well balanced like you would expect from such a highly acclaimed beer. Like the scent the taste is dominated by citrus.

M. Bitter! Kind of light bodied. Carbonation was about right for the style.

D. With such high expectations it is almost impossible for a beer to live up and this beer just doesn't quite live up but it is good.

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Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- A nice bright light amber. Heavy head with a nice lace.

S- oh I love hops. Just a nice strong hops with cirtus notes coming out.

T- Taste of citrus notes from the hops. Alittle bitter but very tolerable.Tasting like lemon zest as well and I want to say apricots but not sure.

M- Very smooth very dry.

D- This is a tasty beer with flavors fruits and hops combine. This beer is well worth to try. For me a must to get again.


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

Growlers of Sculpin for $14 at Green's in Greenville, SC? Yes please

A: Pours a slightly cloudy bright orange color. The head is fluffy, billowy, and retains very very well.

S: In growler form, the nose is a little different than its bottled cousin. The hops are much more aromatic and intense, giving strong notes of pineapple, grapefruit, mango (not as much as the bottled version), lemon, and other citrus fruits. Not really piny or resinous ,which is what I prefer. Malts are subtle, but give enough balance. Truly awesome stuff.

T: Compared to the bottles, this growler tastes amazingly fresh. The hops are bright and flavorful- lots of citrus, tropical fruit, and zest. Bitterness is a little more up front it seems, but definitely manageable. The yeast may be the best part. It adds this unique flavor that is best described as "fresh". Malts balance a little, but this is just a hoppy beer.

MF/D: Carbonation is sometimes a major flaw in IPAs, but this was right on the money. Medium feel to the body. The finish is mango and pineapple juiciness with some bitterness. Alcohol is completely hidden.

Notes- bottle vs growler:
There are minute differences, but I would say that I prefer the growler version due to the freshness of the hops and the aroma. Its really close to call, and either way, its amazing and my personal favorite

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

Poured from a bomber into an over-sized wine glass.

A: Predominantly orange with a mix of yellow. Two and a half finger head that was retained well. Lacing was splotchy and sticky all over. Though it wasn't as good looking as other

S: My sense of smell first picked up on the grapefruits and mangoes which was very pleasant. Also, Mixed with a smell of the piny aroma and hop smell that I love in IPA's. A perfect mix.

T: Taste was of the citrus and the fruits at first. The piny hops come after but as a welcomed bitter guest. My mouth was left with a bitter after taste a couple of seconds after it has gone down.

M: Mouthfeel was medium bodied and moderate carbonation. This beer was very crisp.

D: This beer goes down easy. I can not express in words how fast this beer went down! Very refreshing and tasty.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber. Pours a light orange color with a thin head and lacing throughout. Great aroma. Citrus hops, grapefruit and maybe lemon smells. Taste is more citrus with a bitter aftertaste. Hoppy as well. Pretty smooth. It is certainly a bit dangerous how drinkable this beer is. This is one of the few IPAs that can hold their own against Imperial IPAs. Damn good.

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Photo of seh410
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very pretty orange/yellow color, kind of cloudy, with a off white head that settles into little islands of foam across the top of the beer

Aroma: My favorite kind of IPA. Tropical fruits dominate with some citrus - lots of juicy grapefruit and pineapple - and a nice malty backbone

Taste: Taste is very like the nose. Lots of tropical and citrus hops, strong pineapple and grapefruit flavor with enough roasted malt to balance it out. There are hints of pine in the taste as well and just enough bitterness.

Mouthfeel: very smooth and creamy though medium bodied.

Notes: Great, really excellent beer, the bitterness just lingers a tad too long for me to want to put down large quantities of this.

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Photo of PDXHops
4.94/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Growler poured into a Duvel tulip. See-thru glowing golden orange body with impressive retention from the seemingly modest 1-finger head. Loads of crackly lacing.

While points get docked for not looking perfect, make no mistake about it: this is a perfect IPA. I've had it before bottled and was extremely impressed, but I was blown away by the freshly tapped version. Massive fruitiness in the nose- mango, pineapple, peach, grapefruit, melon- with some honey and floral notes as well. The fruitiness carries over into the flavor profile, but is joined by a substantial pine bitterness. Interestingly, a vanilla-like smoothness attempts to join the fun toward the swallow, only to be swatted away by the hop explosion. Malt minds its own business and watches from the sidelines; the only sweetness comes from the fruit. Very juicy and a bit toasty in the finish. Incredibly fresh tasting and delicious, briefly making me wonder where the "6" choice for Taste is. It actually reminds me quite a bit of HOTD Blue Dot, another one of my favorite beers.

Overall impression: Sunavabitch, this beer is good. If it's not the best (D)IPA out there, then it's sure as hell in the discussion.

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

Bought this bottle a while back, but have been waiting for something special to have it. Skyping with a good friend seemed the perfect occasion.

Poured from my Limited Edition bomber into my Upland tumbler. Nice coppery color, with a respectable head.

Smells terrific. Lots of citrus, grapefruit being dominant.

More of the same from the taste. Its citrusy (lots of grapefruit) but they positively nailed the malt backbone. If you've read many of my other reviews, you will know that I am an absolute stickler for balance. This beer nailed it.

Mouthfeel is nice. Mild-medium carbonation like an IPA should be.

Utterly drinkable. Limited Release makes it hard to drink a ton of this, but this is an exceptional beer and should be sought out and bought should you find it in a store!

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

Pours a dark golden colored body with minimal haziness. A huge frothy white head tops the beer, slowly fadding to leave big sticky splotches all over the glass.

Aroma is king in this beer. This could easily be one of the best aromas I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying in an IPA. Less floral and way more fruity than a lot of other IPAs. Smells like juicy apricots, tangerines, mangos, and grapefruit all blended together.

Taste is close to being right up there with the aroma. The beer seems to really focus on the finishing hops more than the bittering hops; the 70 IBUs really don't seem like much at all. A slight presence of pale malt on the palate give the beer some backbone before the wide array of fruits comes across the palate. Finishes with a slight kick of bitterness, but not much.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, but rather light. Makes for quite a refreshing IPA. Overall, a top notch IPA that easily fits into my top 5 IPA's. Quite a lucky find for me to grab this while out of state last weekend.

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

Having read the reviews for this beer I was very anxious to give it a try. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to locate in the Sacramento area. In any event, I finally located some on a visit to the Bay Area.

I proceeded with my tasting with high expectations. I was not dissapointed. This is a truly special beer.

Serving: 22oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Clear Golden color with an apricot hue. Two finger white head with good rentention.

Smell: A Beautiful citrus hop aroma that is very clean and fresh.

Taste: Outstanding citrus hoppy flavor with a very distinct apricot presence.

Mouthfeel: exceptional lively carbonation. This is how all IPAs should be

Drinkability: This beer goes down easy so proceed with caution.

It's like Racer 5 with a far superior mouthfeel.

My new favorite.

Outstanding beer.

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Photo of SFLpunk
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my homeboy Petey for grabbing this from Julio's yesterday.

22oz brown glass pry-top bottle. Neck stamped: SC26 AEJGJ, whatever that means.

Appearance: Hazy orange amber with fluffy bone-white head with great retention. Some chunks are present too, but not obtrusive.

Nose: Big sticky "weed" hops, dank so to speak. Pine, orange juice, oregano, thyme, granite. Some faint caramel sneaks through.

Palate: Crisp and sticky with chewy malt underneath and then WHAM-O! hops come crashing through and ride all over everything in a good way. Not overblown but very bitter and herbal. Long pleasant finish is spicy.

Notes: Really well balanced even though it's very hoppy and "dank." Not a lot of malt sweetness nor body. Awesome.

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Photo of socon67
4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a nice IPA split from a bomber among a small group. It hides the ABV % nicely, though I'm not sure if you would have a bunch at once.

I'm generally a tough grade on IPA's, and this doesn't stand out as one of the best I've ever had though it is darned good. The hoppy flavor is well done. Sculpin deserves the rating it gets, though I don't know if it justifies the high price tag.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.79/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into snifter. Amazing aroma of citrusy piney juiciness. One of those ipa's that you really don't even need to drink... Just smell. Borderline double ipa,has as much flavor as one. Biting bitterness with great citrus taste. I could go on and on. Just spectacular, bottom line.

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

Pours a golden color slightly tilted toward the dark side, with a good fluzzy, fizzy white head. Decent retention, but eventually settles into a thin crown with whispy film floating along the top. Moderate lacing.

Nose is heavy with tropical fruits...mango, grapefruit, etc. However, even with all that, the hops are still able to muscle their way in and demand your attention. Very good balance. As with the aroma, the same thing plays out in the taste. Lots of mango, grapefruit and such, but the hops again explode through and establish their position on the forefront with a very dank quality. I like that. The intense tropical fruit needs to be offset with a heavy dose of hops, and that's exactly what happens here. Excellent balance.

Mouthfeel is superb. Creamy medium to full bodied, augmented by just the right amount of carbonation.

In short, fantastic IPA. I'll put it right up there with Blind Pig. I prefer the BP, simply because it's drier - but Sculpin is no slouch. Excellent IPA.

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Photo of scottyb88
4.42/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Duvel glass. No date on bottle.

A- pours a semi-clear dark yellow-gold color with plenty of carbonation bubbles and a nice sticky white head

S- just as the bottle describes; me personally I get a nice dose of mango up front followed by the other fruity flavors; there is a definite hint of woodiness and pine

T- for me the woodiness and pine is more apparent in the flavor than the fruity mango and peach flavors; if anything more of the rind and peel of the fruit is in the taste; has a nice earthy dryness but not overly dry and malty; as I got half way into the bottle more of the mango and fruit flavors were starting to become more apparent

M-a nice light mouth feel which I think works well for this particular beer and the nice carbonation level really evens out the bitterness somehow

D-a very drinkable IPA that is bitter, yet refreshing and non-mouth numbing; really worth this high of a rating? mhm i dont know. a little pricey but definitely nice to try.

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Photo of e11a627
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a yellow-gold. Very clear and beautiful beer.

S: Lots o' hops, citrus and a little bit of skunkiness.

T: A nice crisp, hoppy beer. Full of grapefruit flavors.

M: Has a very enjoyable tongue-dance. Crisp and clean. Very yummy. You can feel the slight warmth from the %ABV while drinking it.

D: Very flavorful and overall a nicely done beer. Definitely not a session beer but great to split the bottle with friends.

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

I finally was able to have this beer on draft and it was worth the wait. I also tasted this beer from a bomber but I got a much better feel for it after a full glass. It pours a nice orange-golden color with about a one inch white head. It laces very nicely on the way down. The floral and citrus aroma is ony point with its flavor and really prepares you for its smooth but not over pouring taste. This IPA is very drinkable and I hope to have another glass before it runs out. I would definitely recommend trying this beer on tap.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.6/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy orange-ish to copper color with a white head. In the aroma, grapefruity hops, big citrus. In the taste, dry grapefruity citrus hops and a nice malty backing. A small bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry grapefruity rind-ish aftertaste. Super big hops, nice everyday drinker at 7%.

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Photo of Aenema
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - Pours clear honey with a bone-white head that leaves behind splotchy lacing.
Smell - Lots of citrus, grapefruit.
Taste - A torrent of juicy grapefruit, sweet bready malts provide some balance.
Mouthfeel - Clean, crisp medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation.
Drinkability - Very; dangerously so.
Overall - Wow, fresh on tap I'm not sure if I've had a better IPA. This drinks amazingly well and overflows with flavor; so much so that I expected the alcohol content to be a little higher merely due to the intensity and depth of flavor present.

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

A- Poured from the tap with a 1/2" white head, which slowly receded to a haze layer and some nice sticky lacing. The body was completely transparent and straw-yellow in color.

S- Predominantly citrus hop aromas co-mingle with impressions of marmalade and crackerlike malt to comprise this very rich yet subtly nuanced nose. Somehow they manage to avoid that citrus pith aroma that I don't prefer so much... just lovely.

T- Up front I get a bunch of citrus hop flavor with some crackerlike malt playing around in the background. On the mid-palate, the hop flavor gives way to a moderately strong hop bitterness... which is not overpowering... and gently lingers into the finish like a pleasant resin on the tongue. Tons of flavor and beautiful subtle nuance.

M- Medium body. Pervasive soft carbonation, which adds a particular creaminess to the mouthfeel. Surprisingly no astringency. The alcohol is exceptionally well-hidden... no heat. Wow- this can't get any better.

D- Incredibly quaffable. I wish so badly for this beer to come to Maryland!!!!

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Photo of hopheadjuice
4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, no freshness date, $9.99.

pored into goblet, fast rising white head is very sticky, lush golden yellow straw in color with some haze and bubbles rising up.

Scent smells crisp and clean. Not overly hoppy but scents of pineapple and lemon are most notable. solid malt backbone is present.

Taste is well balanced, hops taste of apricot, pineapple, and grapefruit. Best aspect of this beer is the aftertaste, tropical fruits sweeten up the tongue. Pale malts balance the hops to make it not so bitter.

Mouthfeel is light and moderate with carbonation. Not very dry in the finish.

At 7% abv this is an easy drinker. In no way do i think this is the best IPA on the market. considering the disgusting hype and price this was a little bit of a let down. Ive have far better examples of this style from many different brewerys IMO. Maybe it wasn't super fresh, regardless it is what it is, a solid balanced IPA.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On cask at Al's of Hampden on 8/5/10. This was the dry hopped version with Simcoe hops.

A - Hazy orange/amber liquid with a dense frothy head that laced up magnificently. Beautiful, picture-perfect cask pour!

S - Bold fresh hop aroma with an array of spicy and citrus tones and a sweet malt backbone. Aroma is quite pungent.

T - Spicy Simcoe hops abound with just a fresh leafy hop goodness and a hint of spiced fruit. Finishes with a lingering hop bitterness on the palate. A slight alcohol presence emerged as the liquid warmed up a bit. Delicious and even better than the standard tap version.

M - Solid medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and oily texture. Finishes with a dry, spicy lingering hop bitterness on the palate.

D - Fresh, delicious and poundable! Freakin' awesome cask beer, actually. I prefer this over the Palisade cask version, though both are fantastic.

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