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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: 13,322
Photo of kzoobrew
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S: Citrus overpowers with a moderate pine aroma.

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

M: Medium bodied. Light carbonation.

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

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

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

Thanks to mlaroche for this want extra of mine.

No date on the bottle.

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

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

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

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Photo of chrisgn
4.65/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of Satchboogie
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber fresh off the truck poured into a Duvel Tulip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of cetherid
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a tulip


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


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


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


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


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

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Photo of sbauer
4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A: Light yellowish amber. Thick clingy lacing.

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

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

M: Medium-full bodied. Moderate carbonation.

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

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Photo of bierguru
3.18/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

S -
hop and citrus

T -
hop and finishes with a strong citrus dry bite

M -
mild feel with a drying to it

D -
its okay had better however better then most

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Photo of SkunkWorks
4.22/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Ynot2
4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Nice citrus aroma full of hops.

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

Mild carbonation at the most, slightly dry finish.

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

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Photo of tchenery
4.03/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Jeffo
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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

From a bottle into a snifter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A- Golden Hued with a Medium head.

S- Citrus hops all over, incredible!

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

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

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

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

A - Pale honey

S - Loaded with hops. Grapefruit, sweet citrus.

T - Crisp hop flavor, herbal and mildly piney. Touch of citrus mid profile. Finishes with a dry hoppy bitterness.

M - Nice body. Finishes dry.

O - To hoppy to drink regularly, but a treat while you've got it.

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Photo of merryjoulton
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is truly a great IPA. Breweries around the country are all trying to create a tastely, high quality IPA but all are coming up short of Sculpin. The color is a wonderfully solid and has a great luster. Aroma is all big, sticky, icky, piney, citrusy and rainy hops. Taste is an exceptionally good combination of hops and malt (but mostly hops thank goodness). Taste is more on the bitter/piney side than the malty side. Mouthfeel is very crisp and clean. I could get used to this.

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Photo of pburland23
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber into a standard pint glass.

Beer pours a hazy, golden orange with about a finger of white head that lingered for a long time.

This beer smells great. At first, I picked up on piney, crisp hops notes but while taking a deef whiff, I picked up some orange, lemon and maybe a little mango. Regardless, Sculpin provides a melange of enjoyable citrus notes.

The taste is also dominated by intense citrus flavors and clean hops bitterness. I got a lot of grapefruit flavor up front in each sip which was balanced out by a bitter, but not overpowering finish.

The mouthfeel is light bodied for an IPA, but still enjoyable though. Sculpin is a touch oily, but still remarkably smooth.

What a great well balanced IPA. I'm not willing to crown Sculpin as the best American IPA available, but it should be involved in the conversation. It's a well rounded and incredibly flavorful IPA. I wish I could find it in the Philadelphia area more often

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Photo of Abrengle
4.29/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Double/Imperial with a bountiful of hops and nice citrus notes that leave a deceivingly low alcohol presence on the finish. Sporadically hard to find with unreliable distribution. It seems to ebb and flow through inventory at local stores in the Phoenix market. One of my favorite limited/rotating release finds from Ballast Point in 2010!

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Photo of rka758
4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into SA perfect pint.
Received as part of birthday.

A: Pours the color of honey with a nice and thick one finger head.
S: Nothing over powering. Nice hop, citrus and fresh cut grass aroma.
T: A good full-bodied taste. Hops start subtle and build-up.
M: Crisp and clean.
D: Doesn't dissapoint. I think I'll have another.

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Photo of loren01
4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy orange color, nice frothy white head with good lacing down the glass.
S: Nice malt up front, citrusy hops mostly though
T: Nicely balanced IPA, good malt backbone followed by resiny tangerine like hop flavor
M: Resiny and sticky but goes down pretty smooth. Medium bodied
D: This is a great beer...very drinkable. Reminds me a lot of Hair of the dog blue dot. Would buy this one again for sure.

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Photo of number1bum
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazed tangerine color with a creamy and pretty dense two fingers of beige head. Keeps a pretty full and ample lace with a nice amount of coating on the sides of the glass.

Smell is very pithy and resiny, with lots of grapefruit peel and orange. Has a zesty lemony quality to it as well; just extremely citrusy. Has a floral tropicy fruitiness to it as well. It's also very resiny, dank and bitter smelling. Very hop forward, with some sweetness behind.

Taste is also very citrusy, with a load of grapefruit in particular. It's not super juicy, more pithy and bitter, with some lemon as well. Very little sweetness as the hops are really the entire show here. Hops have a spicy quality to them as well, with a long, bitter finish. I don't get some of the tropical fruit flavors that the nose had, and overall I just don't get as much fruitiness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a pretty good slickness and a very bitter, dry finish. Carbonation is good; quite dry.

I think Sculpin is very good but not great. I wish for more fruity flavor, because although I love the bitter grapefruit peel flavor I like it even better with some juicy sweetness to go with it. The nose had more, the taste not much at all. A very bitter, hop forward IPA, which is certainly plenty pleasing to this palate.

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