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: 2,430 | Ratings: 13,427
Photo of BretSikkink
4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden orange, lighter around the outside. Gentle pour elicits a small white head; however, the tenacity of the stick, structure, and lacing of the foam leads me to believe that good, hoppy things are in store. Slight haziness, but fairly clear with streaming bubbles.

The nose reminds me of those water-vapor fountains you can purchase in black many shades of rave-ready accent lights: it's as though the particles of hop resin are sauntering out of the glass and into your nostrils. My wife loves "bright" IPAs, and this one defines the term. I'm getting lots of citric fruit in addition to tropical, fruit punch notes. The orange was what came out to greet me, but the note of mango really drives the aroma here (and I just had a mango the other night - it's uncanny how much the Sculpin smells like it). Other fruits to discuss: tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit, both pink and yellow. Hint of herbs as well, especially as it warms: lemongrass, rosemary, pine resin, sweet mary jane...

Outstandingly hoppy flavor, this is one great IPA. The malt bill is a whipped puppy, bringing nothing more substantive than what could balance an APA. The hint of bubblegum suggests an estery yeast strain or maybe even a touch of wheat malt, and belies the only small morsel of sweetness that this beer can offer.

The hops add a host of citric, tropical, and herbal textures that are so fresh and so clean that Outkast could write a song about it. I won't get into a naming game here, but there is a great West Coast element of bright citrics like the orange from the aroma, and a very delectable fullness of flavor like a peach or tangelo. Remarkable. Peppery in the finish, with a tobacco-like herbal note that calls Simcoe to mind. Between the citric bitterness and hemp oil complexity, this is like slathering a Saltine with an aged Stilton. (This analogy can be taken two ways, of course. 1. Sculpin is amazingly hoppy and delicious. 2. Sculpin is dramatically out of balance.)

Carbonation is high, keeping this hop monster at bay with a little harshness towards the finish. Damn close to a Double IPA - packing this many alpha acids in a bottle really tugs at my heartstrings. While I initially considered this one a bit of a lightweight due to the weak malt profile and the bubbles, the second half of the bottle is silky enough to warrant a bump in mouthfeel, while the carbonation continues to keep my mouth scrubbed and ready for another sip. Or bottle.

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Photo of hoptrip619
3.85/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured off KnB Cellars new 32 tap system.

A: Bright sunny orange with a bit of haze an not much head.

S: No big surprise with the citrus zest and fruity nose.

T: Citrus and fruity hop flavor <insert obligatory citrus and floral hop descriptors>. This particular batch had a lot of residual malt sweetness and wasn't nearly as dry as past batches. Rushing production to meet demand? Perhaps...

M: Light-Medium in body which makes it much more refreshing than some of the heavier IPA's.

D: This is a good beer, it used to be a great beer but it's still up there with the better West Coast IPA's.

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

Amber-orange in color with a dense white head that leaves a consistent white cap and wet lacings on the glass. Big floral, hoppy aroma. Grapefruit and tropical mango aromas are fresh and clean. Velvety smooth feel with refreshing carbonation. Sweet malty flavor in the beginning that leads to big grapfruit, mango citrus flavors and a clean balanced finish. Good balance of malt and hops. An excellent IPA and very drinkable.

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into my Zatec fluted glass. A medium golden color with about 2 and a half fingers of white head. Smell blasted up my nose of tropical fruit, peaches, and grapefruit. The smell that made me love IPA. Tastes very grapefruity and peachy. Very nice dry, medium strong bitter finish. Love this. Zaftig. Nice medium carbonation. I would drink a million of these.

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

22 oz. bottle
a- orangy - copper color. white head, holding decently.

s- smells really nice. solid quantity of dry hops used to make a beer this old taste this good. Notes of apricots, and highly citrousy fruit.

t- This is exactly what I expect in a good American IPA, with a decent dose of alcohol @ 7%. Malt is satisfying, but only in tribute to the extraordinary amount of hops and bitterness.

m- I like how the beer is sufficiently bitter, but the bitterness doesn't linger and ruin the next sip. And the alcohol is absolutely on point with the flavor, I am glad to have an aged bottle. Intense but balanced.

d- I enjoyed every sip and drop.

thanks Will

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

Special thanks to beerman207 for bringing this one back to me from his recent trip to PA. Review is from notes taken on 7/22/2010 and poured from the bottle to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a solid orange/coppery color; starts with a 1/2 finger off-white head with great retention; body is hazy/cloudy, but shows a lot of slow, but strong, carbonation; loose spots and streaks of lacing are left behind.

Smell: Quite wonderful -- lots of grapefruit and orange hops that very bitter in nature; backed by a wonderfully sweet maltiness with a slight toasty graininess; nose is quite robust.

Taste: Wow, it's a lot more bitter than I expected and it's like sucking on a grapefruit rind and orange peel; I do wish that the malts were more present as there's really no balance; I can't believe the malts don't show like they do in the nose, but it's still quite good, I just feel it could be a little better; overall, it's a pretty simple and straightforward IPA; the label discusses peach and mango, but I really get none of those flavors.

Mouthfeel: Body is moderately light and I feel that the carbonation is spot on -- soft, but lively enough; gums are left a little tingly and there is a dry sticky coating left holding strong to the roof of the mouth.

Drinkability: Aside from the slight lack of balance, this beer is really quite good; it's refreshingly bitter and not really heavy at all, so getting through 22 oz. really doesn't pose too much of a problem.

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

750 mL bottle, into standard pint glass.

I've had this beer multiple times, it never ceases to amaze me :)

Appearance - This beer is straight up sexy. Very clear, zero haze, a light yellow-orange color. I poured this one somewhat aggressively, resulting in about a two fingers high head. Could probably get more if I hit it hard enough. Once down to normal, it maintains a thin head perfectly. Lacing is gorgeous and sticks to the glass almost evenly with each drink.

Smell - Very floral, very citrusy, but sweet citrus. Grapefruit comes through strong. Some very light earthen notes as well, somewhat grassy.

Taste - Very complex but organized taste. Perfect bitterness does not come in waves, but hits early and through the entire sip and well into the aftertaste. Crisp through the middle, and at the end you get the sweet notes, dominated mostly by grapefruit. Malt notes are muted, but in my mind that is perfectly OK in an IPA.

Mouth Feel - Well carbonated, but not overly so. I feel like if I REALLY wanted to, I chug the hell out of this beer. Anyone that actually does though deserves to have their BA account deleted though :) Creamy feel, without being overly thick.

Drinkability - See above I guess. I could chug this beer all day if I had access to enough of it. But alas, bottles are few and far between, and must be savored.

I'm proud this beer is from my hometown, and I got to have one of the first batches quite a while ago. It hasn't changed, and has set the bar very high for future brews. Can't wait to have another!

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

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A: This beer pours a golden straw color and has a 2 finger slightly off-white head that has excellent retention and excellent lacing.

S: A lot of citrus sweetness, but for some reason this smells a tad medicinal to me. In my opinion the weakest component of this otherwise stellar beer.

T: A little pine at the start, but then a ton of citrus in the middle and a nice, slightly bitter finish. The main citrus notes are pineapple, and lemons. This is really nicely balanced. I like the herby finish...a little rosemary maybe? Exactly like an IPA should be.

M: Spot on. Perfectly carbonated and wonderful medium body fell in the mouth. The taste is so great, I wish I had a little more of an aftertaste lingering around.

D: Superb. I had no problem polishing off the bomber, and could have easily had more. This is definitely a beer to search out and try if you haven't already.

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Photo of Tomdee74
4.97/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

okay this definitely gets an A+ in my book.. i've had this a few times but i'm finally going to review it.. All i have to say is... Are you kidding me??? i've had pliny, had so many good ipas and double ipas.... all i can is.... this is only a single ipa.... so i think this is the best ipa there is! truly phenomenal beer and of rating this as a single ipa, then it is way up there!!

A - Poured into a smutty big beer series tulip glass to see 2 and 1/2 inches of a great head and superb lacing... i gotta give it up to ballast point here...

S - This is what blows you away.. there is no way you smell this and think it's a single ipa.. get this fresh and smell it and you have to smile and shake your head it will astound you! a great trait this beer posesses!!

T - whoa again!! blows you away! how is this not a double IPA??? i see signs around here that flaunt stone ipa and claim it's the best ipa in america... this comes to mind immediately as the only brewery able to make that claim.. and i'm a huge smuttynose fan but i gotta give credit where it's due... and like i said i've had this several times... i've had many great ipas i just think when we talk about regular ipas this one has to come in way at the top...

M - perfect carbonation.. perfect body!! what more can i say???

D - low abv's make this one insane... and it's insane to make this the first beer of the night and try to switch up to something else unless your gonna do like a PTE it's brutal.. nothing really comes close to this... ughhh i hate that i gotta give it up like this but i do... i think this is the best single IPA I've ever had!

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

On tap @ Prime 16, New Haven CT

This is a well regarded IPA that I see in bottles around town sometimes, but I normally avoid due to the fact that Ballast Point refuses to date their bottles. 22oz of this is at least $10 a pop in CT, so I usually dont bother as to avoid a faded expensive IPA. I was excited to see this on tap, now I finially get to try it undoubtably fresh.

An excellent and complete pour into a true pint glass. Golden, completely clear, no haze or cloudiness. A one finger frothy white head, just about ready to spill out over the glass.

The aroma from my glass is full of pungent, sticky, and resiny citrus hops. Im getting a little skunky cannibis and also a kiss of sweet malt.

As far as taste, what can I say? Fresh Sculpin is one of the best IPAs I have had to date. Completly west coast from the ground up, full of tangerine, grapefruit, mango, and a stern bitterness. Flavors here seem infinitely bright and lively. The hop profile is resiny and sticky, and the mouthfeel is thick enough to back it up without ever becoming too heavy. A malt presence acts as a sturdy base, but asserts itself no further. I reccomend anyone and everyone to try this fresh, its an excellent IPA that lives up to its good name.

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Photo of hu5om
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks again to gon8888! delic. man.
split with newk340
a-orange bronze thin soapy head decent lacing

s-orange citrus, hoppy freshness, vaguely tropical. pineapple, mango.

t-hoppy orange citrus, with a spicy tropical end: mango and pineapple again. a unique ipa. very distinct. newk340 said fish and now i think i taste it! sad, i think it's just a bit oily. piney and lemony, pinesol in a good way somehow.

m-medium resine. not a palate killer by any means. bitter but a pretty decent finish. not pte delicate, but what can you do? a bit oily in texture.

d-excellent, overall i'm very happy. a sipper, but still quite easy drinking. i would have no reason to stop at one if it were easier to get in WI!

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Photo of newk340
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

shared a bomber with hu5om in new belgium goblets.

A: a hazy golden amber with minimal visible carbonation and a thin head that left a decent lacing at the end.

S: faint citrusy scents coat the nostrils in a very pleasing and intoxicating manner.

T: initial bitterness confirms citrusy flavors such as pineapple, mango, and lemon. there is also a distinct aftertaste that is hard to place a finger on... fishoil maybe? reminded me of the ocean.

MF/D: not overly tart so each sip goes down very smooth as the carbonation is very front heavy and slightly numbs the tongue.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The simplest way to categorize this, for me, is Double IPA flavor in an IPA.
Big, hearty flavor. Dry, big on the peach and nectarine quality of bitterness. A well rounded citrus quality that plays with grapefruit, lemon and lime. A smidge of black tea, a bit of sweetness. Hops are sturdy and confident.
I try not to be influenced by ratings or hype but this is excellent stuff. It reminds me pretty clearly of my one sample of Blind Pig and my one sample of Pliny the Elder. There's a delicate balance to this coupled with a boldness of flavor that is very appealing. I am sad to see this bottle emptied, but I think I can get a couple more so I think I'll be ok.

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Photo of honestdave
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from bomber into my Westy chalice

A: Really bright lemon yellow color with a nice thick creamy head. Good amount of laciing as I swirl this in the glass. Carbonation bubbles rise to the top. Looks awesome and very inviting.

S: Sweet and citrusy. Lemon, pineapple, mango come through.

T: Lemon zest and pineapple basil. Citrus flavors abound and end in a herbal, hoppy zing with a light malt finish.

M: Medium mouthfeel, slightly warm alcohol. Sticky sweetness.

D: Very easy drinking IPA. Delicious brew. Exceptionally super balanced beer.

Summary: This is easily one IPA that I would buy again and again if it were available in my area. This is a treat to savor.

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Photo of Hershdawg
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler into Duvel Tulip

A: Nice white head, good lacing. Golden color. The head becomes a ring around the glass. Overall a great appearance for an AIPA.

S: A huge pile of hops. Lots of late addition hops. Little malt smell.

T: Hops but not extremely bitter. Lots of citrus, and pine flavors from the hop resins. Very nicely balanced.

M: Very light mouthfeel. Less then normal for IPA. Not a bad thing but a little out of style.

D: Very drinkable. Though most probably shouldn't go through more then a bottle.

Great IPA. Highly recommended. Few are this good without being highly bitter.

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Photo of BostonBrewins
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pours a crystal clear straw with the frothiest head I've ever seen. Fantastic. Lots of lacing.

S - Tropical and citrus fruits are abundant here. Notes of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mango, and pineapple. Undertones of bread.

T - This IPA is refreshingly focused on the tropical fruit. The citrus notes come through in the finish. Juicier than many in this style.

M - The light body really works with this one.

D - With so many in this genre being glorified citrus bombs, its nice to drink such a refreshing, thirst quenching, easy drinking IPA. I could drink these all day.

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Photo of pwoody11
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Damn thats a scary looking fish.

From notes:
Purchased at Pinocchio's in Media, PA.

Pours an Orange-Gold with a nice frothy white head. I can smell the hop aroma almost immediately. A closer sniff brings notes of various tropical fruit. Grapefruit and Mango. Grassy and Piney. Hops all around. I'm tempted to snort the beer it smells so good.

Taste is not quite as pleasant as the nose, but very similar. Hops, Hops, and more Hops. Surprisingly it's not quite a palate destroyer like I thought it would be. Slight malt backbone, but barely noticeable. Not a bad thing though as I said the hops aren't kicking my ass.

Nice smooth beer. Glad I have access to it out here.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

100th Review!

Appearance -- Pours a pale orange, just slightly hazy, with two fingers of stiff, lily-white head.

Smell -- VERY aromatic. Bright tropical fruit aromas, tangerine, some grassiness and bready malt.

Taste -- The tropical fruity hop notes are immediately apparent, along with mild caramel malt sweetness. As the caramel makes way for the drier, bready malt flavors the tropical fruitiness fades into grassy notes and firm hop bitterness. Finish is crisp and exceptionally clean with little lingering flavor.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with the perfect amount of prickly carbonation that finishes smooth and crisp.

Drinkability -- Starts fruity and caramelized, finishes dry and bitter: the best of both worlds in one sip. When an opportunity arises to drink a top-rated beer I do my best to stay critical and not get wrapped up in the hype. This beer, however, rightfully deserves all of the accolades it has been bestowed. World-class!

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

Tropical flavors leap out of the glass, drawing you in. You draw...

Amazing. This is easily the most complex, beautiful IPA I've ever tasted. Superb mouthfeel with elegant balance of otherworldly hops and a citrus bite that starts bitter and leaves friendly.

If only this was an example of what for some reason are being called "Belgian IPAs" as of late. Than perhaps the brewers of respectable but unidimensional ales so prevalent on the west coast would have something to strive toward.

Simply a beer that could induce physical aggression upon under appreciation. God-tier.

(served in wine-glass, seafoam head, absolutely enviable lacing, like a goddamn tree trunk)

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.45/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearence- Golden amber in color with a thick white head.

Smell- This thing smells like angels. Pineapple, mango frutiness along with a sweet malty backbeat.

Taste- Easily one of the best tasting liquids I have ever imbibed. The taste follows the nose with the fruity hops, lasting bitterness and a well balanced malt.

Mouthfeel-Exceptional mouthfeel, stays on the tongue for quite a while.

Drinkability- I could drink these Sculpins all night if I could afford/acquire them regularly. Alcohol is masked beautifully.
This beer has a great reputation for a reason. Seek it out when its released.
Bottle: 4.5/5
Finally enjoyed this beer on tap. I found it to be a noticeable upgrade. First glass from the keg as well. Great beer. Not the most intense, but perhaps one of the most intricate and deep (especially for a non-Imperial IPA). The plethora of fruity hop flavors is matched only by a few other brews.
On-Tap: 4.75/5

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Photo of KAP1356
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 650ml bottle into my Hoppin' Frog pint glass. No bottled on date, but it was refrigerated (thank God) in the store where I bought it...

A - Pours a hazy golden color. Did not give it a hard pour, but a 2.5 finger eggshell (slightly off white) white color head did form.

S - Honey, mango, grapefruit, some pineapple. VERY citrus hop presence. However not as strong an aroma as I would have thought for all that is going on here.

T - Honey and very citrusy hops stand out. It is sweet and bitter at the same time with neither overpowering the other. Sweet up front with the fruits coming out, and then bitter fnish with some piney elements coming through. Everything comes together in a tremendous way.

M - Slightly thicker than what I expected. Nice and smooth though.

D - Unbelievably well balanced. More so than most ofthe other IPA's I've had. I didn't even notice that it was a 7% beer. It is quite enjoyable and it would be a tremendous beer on a hot day in the summer.

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Photo of weissbierdrinker
4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a golden color with big fluffy white head that leaves a decent amount of lacing. Carbonation is lively.

Smell is of peach, mango and some floral notes. Picking up on some pine to.

A well balanced IPA that isn't overpowering with the hops bitterness. Almost lacking in bitterness for an IPA but I'm digging it. A little bit sweet. Flavor is pretty much the same as the nose.
Mouthfeel is thick but light (does that make any sense?) Very drinkable.

Thanks daaaah!

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Photo of johndoe8
4.51/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Got it at Bev4Less... best liquor store around :)

A-This is a perfect golden pour.
S-Honestly, poured in my favorite beer stein, this beer has a very subtle nose. Difficult to pick up, but maybe its b/c I've finished half the bottle already.
T-The taste is awesome. It's such a balanced taste. Hops are not overwhelming, very defined. I love it.
M-Mouth feel is very typical of good IPAs.
D-Enjoy the beer so much I don't feel the alcohol. Very easy to finish.

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Photo of chaz410
3.69/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this beer at the good ol' common market.
Pours a medium amber body with pale white finger length head.
Smells amazing! Lots of floral and citrus hops dance around your nose. Not much pine but a little dry smell comes out amist the grapefruit, orange, and flowers.
The taste is, well not as good as the smell in honesty. I was expecting a little more on the hop bitterness but not disappointed with how easy it was to drink. It has a little caramel sweetness and some obvious crystal malts that lay the stage for some subtle citrus and floral hop character. A moderate bite at the end from the hops but not overpowering.
Very drinkable and very floral

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.08/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in my trusty Devil's Backbone willibecher.

Big thanks to stevglad and the N00b Traders BIF for this catch!

Based on what the label tells me, I kinda wanna try some sculpin meat. Anyway, the beer pours a clear golden straw topped by over a finger of white foam. The nose holds plenty o' sharp pine and even sharper grapefruit, with a buttery toffee undercurrent. The taste follows pretty closely, though the toffee loses both some power and some butter. The hops, though, remain rather powerful throughout. The body is a light medium, with moderate carbonation and a very smooth feel. Overall, a strong IPA, but kinda overly one-dimensional in favor of the hops. I'd prefer a bit more balance, but it's pretty damn good nonetheless.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,427 ratings.
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