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: 2,463 | Ratings: 13,666
Photo of TeamMathis
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It has the best head retention I've ever seen in an IPA. Super frothy. The citrus smell is very, very inviting, but subtle. The taste also isn't overwhelming, but has a really nice bitter burn on the end. It's very close to the bitterness of an English IPA. Yes, I'd get this again. Is this one overhyped? Maybe, but worth getting.

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Photo of Nightmare1972
4.52/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a very clear amber look with a very thick creamy white head. Has a sweet hoppy aroma with a hint of pine. Very hoppy with a light caramel, and somewhat hidden apricot taste.

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Photo of nerdboy19
4.62/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look : Redish orange, very clear with white head - 4/5
Aroma : Huge citrus, grapefruit aroma. Balanced piney, malty nose. - 4.5/5
Mouthfeel : Medium carbonation, medium bodied, excellent. - 5/5
Flavor : Perfect balance with hop and malt for west coast ipa. Mainly very grapefruit like, but also has piney character. Balanced malty sweetness and great bitterness - 5/5
Overall : It might taste boring since there are so many great new ipas in the world right now, but this beer tops west coast style ipa. My all time favorite - 5/5

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Shaker pint glass, there is no "best by" date that I can find.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear, copper color with one-finger white head, excellent retention, the head slowly settled until a thin, unbroken layer of small bubbles remained, there is significant lacing on the glass, higher than average carbonation, this is a beautiful looking beer to be sure.

SMELL: bread, flowery with some grapefruit citrus and pine.

TASTE: initially sweet bread and then grapefruit citrus and some pine, the citrus and hops are understated and the sweet malt is more pronounced, the end result is a wonderfully balanced IPA.

PALATE: medium body and higher than average carbonation.

OVERALL: I have been hearing about this beer for years and for the first time it is available in my area, sometimes I have high expectations and get disappointed.....not today, this beer is beautiful to look at and wonderfully balanced, I will buy this again and will recommend to everyone I know, my only gripe is that it cost $15.99 for a six pack, this beer should not cost more than $9.99, this would be my new "go to" if the price point were more favorable.

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Photo of 0_0
4.17/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L - Golden, like the fresh waters of your local lake
S- Fruity, mango, tropical.
Taste- citrus, pine a little thin
F- smooth
O - Took these out for a fishing trip. Solid choice.

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Photo of Bulabeers
4.29/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

This was bottled on April 26th and came out of a mix 12 pack. I've had it before both fresher and older.
L: Orangeish golden beer with a finger and a half of white head and tons of lacing
S: Seems like the aroma is the most effected attribute of the beer at nearly three months old. Can pick up some high alpha acid bitter hop. Kind of resiny. A slight hint of muddled pine and citrus.
T: This is still a very good tasting IPA. Pine and citrus are coming through maybe grapefruit and lemons. Caramel and a lingering hop bitterness.
F: Phenols and medium carbonation. No alcohol present.
O: Great IPA. Wish it was two weeks old. Mix pack was 22 $ on sale and nearly three months old. Would hesitate to make this purchase again however this particular beer being reviewed price and packaging aside is a delicious beer.

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Photo of TrueOregonian
3.78/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

L- Hazy orange/golden color

S- pear followed by tangerine, apricot, fresh bread. Smells like it's gonna taste amazing.

T- very well balanced. The malt backbone is very big on the flavor.
You get pear, apricot, bread, a little grapefruit on the bitter side but just right. Just so well balanced.

O- decent ipa. I am more of a west coast kinda ipa guy but this is nice.


Trying this beer I had the lagunitas equinox and it tastes very similar. I liked it better though.

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Photo of pezhead_79
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

While I am not an IPA fan, I do enjoy the beer style in small doses. This is perhaps the finest year-round IPA I have enjoyed. It hits all the right notes but is never overpowering in any aspect. Overall, I am really happy that it has become available in my region (Indiana).

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Photo of jrsqc7
3.09/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Are you in the market for a one dimensional IPA? How about one that really, substantively,, the embodiment of the "California" IPA, where you get one dimensional hop bitterness, no malt profile worth speaking of? If that sounds right up your alley, then, hey, you're gonna love this beer. It's got hops. Then, it's got more hops. Even more hops come in latter. The mouthfeel and head retention are the best things about this beer.

Enjoyed with an unfiltered lucky strike.

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Photo of KatyBeerGuy
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into tulip. One finger head went to 1/2 quickly. Very citrusy, orangy on the nose. Initial taste took over my mouth with sweet fruitiness. Like nectar flowing into the palate after biting into a super juicy orange, with some hops tart coming through big time. A fantastic IPA. Will find out after the bottle (or two) but this may be my favorite IPA.

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Photo of JacobusFavier23
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L-Pours a hazy yellow straw like color with a hint of amber, with a nice white foamy head.
S- Sweet, floral, hoppy, citrusy, piney and mellow all together.
T- I get the taste of strong ripe orange, grapefruit, with a slight boozy mix. It has the perfect citrus and bitterness that makes it have this juicy grapefruit taste. Ugh its so delicious.
F- Crisp fresh and delicious-exrtremely refreshing.
0- There is just no better ipa down in this region of the US (lower Alabama). This is the best IPA i've ever had. Delicious, everything you'd want in an ipa and refreshing with a mellow spin. If you haven't had this ipa do yourself a flavor and get it.

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Photo of doktorhops
4.07/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one of those “long time coming” beers in that it’s so highly rated in the US (BeerAdvocate has it on their Beers of Fame list: The gold standard of tasting lists IMO) and Dan Murphy’s have stocked their Big Eye IPA for many years - I mean WTF took them so long to get Sculpin in?!? Anyway, it’s here, it’s overpriced, and it’s finally getting either the “Doc brand seal of Approval” or the “Doc brand seal of Meh!”... or something in-between those 2 seals [perhaps half of each seal? I haven’t really given it that much thought]. So take it away Ballast Point Sculpin IPA!

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed amber body with a half centimetre dense cream-coloured head that leaves a decent bit of spider web lace on the side of the glass. Overall this is a top-notch looking, although a tad prosaic, American IPA. 8/10.

S: Quite a perfume of hops here - very flowery, with piney/citrus and a touch of pineapple. The most noticeable thing though is the bold floral character - which is not uncommon in an IPA, but intriguingly takes centre stage in the aroma of Sculpin. 9/10.

T: Sweet potpourri of flowers upfront crashes against assertive piney/citric bitterness and somewhere in the mid palate you’ve got light caramel malts and a touch of fresh pineapple [nowhere near the hefty “pineapple chunks in syrup” notes you get from another certain DIPA, which is Doc’s favourite... I won’t name names - you’ll just have to read my blog]. It’s got just enough to differentiate it flavourwise from Big Eye without being any more impressive [to me at least]. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a decent dense carbonation - it’s lacking a bit of wow in the mouthfeel. 7/10.

D: So it’s really just Big Eye with a slightly different flavour profile (for better or worse). I did dig the floral aroma of this one over Big Eye, but apart from that I’m finding Ballast Point to be a little overrated in the IPA stakes - there’s a good many excellent IPA brewers out there in that land they call ‘Merica: Where anyone, no matter how terrible their hairpiece is... I mean like an animal died and is withering away on their head, and no matter how bigoted the person, they can still run for president of the country - now that’s freedom right there! [or the slow decline into despotism]. 8/10.

Food match: Thinking Thai cuisine - like a Kaeng pa with fresh chilli or Som tam Thai (also with fresh chilli).

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Photo of oldn00b
4.17/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nice, standard, well rounded west coast IPA. Typical of the style, one of the gold standards. Freshness definitely matters but it holds up really well for a month or two. Always happy to have this one.

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Photo of Gear54
4.42/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle into a pint glass.

Beer is crystal clear gold/light amber in color. Thick finger width white head with good retention and nice lace left on the glass. very good

Smell is mostly citrus hops. Nice orange zest and grapefruit aromas in the nose. Maybe some floral notes and caramel malt underneath the initial hop smell.

Taste is very well done. Nice balanced IPA with the bitter citrus grapefruit type hops up front and a sold malty backbone behind it. This is what my ideal representation of the style looks like.

Feel is crisp medium body with good carbonation. The excellent balance makes this very drinkable beer. Well done

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Photo of Doryman
3.52/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is a perfectly fine, classic IPA, in fact, if there was a tastable IPA beer dictionary, you would probably find a pint of this beer under the definition of IPA. Not especially floral or fruity. It is suitably bitter, crisp and refreshing. I will always and happily drink one if offered but it really costs too much for me to ever buy it again. Thirteen dollars for a six pack? Really? It's not all that.

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Photo of psycHOPathy
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smell: pineapple, grapefruit. Tangy citrus hops.
Taste: very piney, follow up is fruity. Same as nose plus mango. Very grassy. Subtle malt
Feel: fine. Slightly dry
It's bitter but an extraordinarily balance yet flavorful beer

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Photo of Riff
4.16/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can into a shaker glass. Color is amber, a little on the darker side. Thick, white foam of almost two fingers. Scent is light, almost non-existant mostly of pine leading into grapefruit. A little flower up front leads into grapefruit and bready malt flavors then finishes sweet, lingers for a while. Feel is light, moderate carbonation and an easy drinker. Overall a pleasant IPA, there are a few better but this one is worthwhile.

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Photo of mannagills
4.49/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Delicious aroma poured with minimal head. Drank it from a Weizen glass with light lacing. I loved the flavor and would rank it it in my top 10. It is a good beer but, there are several other beers that I like that aren't nearly as expensive.

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Photo of cbn
3.52/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber, not so pale.lightly medical aroma soft with an edge. Massive pale malt richness, extended hoppy finish. First carbonation-hop bite, silky smooth body. Well crafted, greater than sum of parts.

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Photo of BRZLNR
4.31/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pleasant hoppy aromas right when you open the bottle. Drank straight from the bottle.
From the very first sip you can delight the fresh and bright hops. It is definitely not your average IPA.
I personally wouldn't say it is "better" than the Heady Topper but it is definitely head to Heady!
The Sculpin is very robust and unique. A great example of what an IPA beer should taste like.
The label's artwork by Paul Elder is very well displayed with a vivid coloring Sculpin fish.
Never a bad occasion with this beer. Fresh, delicious hops till the very last drop.

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Photo of TrufflePig
3.54/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 650 ml bottle purchased from Costco for ~$6.50. Could not find a date on the bottle. Not much smell, taste is bitter/musky with some citrus. It actually kind of tastes more like an East Coast IPA than West Coast, or perhaps in between the two.

Above average IPA but I really don't get the 97 rating. Maybe I got an old one but I would expect fairly high turnover at Costco. The $14-15+ price tag for a 6-pack is also rather absurd. I would much rather drink a Zombie Dust or Union Jack regardless of price, let alone for $4-5 less per 6-pack.

To me this is roughly on par with Huma Lupa Licious or Centenial IPA. A solid, above average IPA but certainly nothing special.

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Photo of cbenson
4.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: semi-opaque light gold with a short and quickly dissipating foam head
Smell: This might be the best smelling beer on the planet. It has hints of grapefruit and lime. It is tropical and citrusy.
Taste: citrus and flowery. Mild bitterness. Starchy malts. Long, sweet aftertaste.
Feel: refreshingly smooth with mild carbonation and creaminess.
This is a fantastic fruity IPA.

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Photo of nawpnawp
3.71/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy light yellow with minimal head. The nose is interesting -- I'm getting notes of pineapple and floral hops. The taste is much of the same, but I'm picking up an interesting jasmine tea flavor. Nothing really stands out and it's a little bland all around.

I don't really understand the love of this beer. It's drinkable and a great option for a party or if looking for a sessionable beer, but there isn't much to it.

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Photo of PhilsPils
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Hay Merchant, Houston. Nice orange-ish amber with a decent head. The aroma is mostly hops and lots of to a good start. First sip tells me this one is not over-carbonated like many IPAs. Looks like all those hops that hit me in the face are mostly dry-hopped because the beer is not overly bitter. Lots of grapefruit and citrus with some pine notes. A little dankness emerges as it warms. This is a great IPA, no doubt about it. Everything you expect from a West Coast IPA and more. I would give a slight edge to Union Jack but they seem very similar to me. I think Yellow Rose is superior or maybe just more to my taste but I can't think of other examples that I think are substantially better.

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Photo of m_hall
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, poured into a nonic pint. A amber-gold ale, crystal clear and topped by a large, dense white head. Good retention and great lacing.

Aroma has prominent orange and grapefruit citrus notes, accentuated by sweetly floral undertones and an almost tropical fruitiness.

Flavors are a balanced mix of sweet malts and assertive but not overpowering hops on the front end... the grapefruit is just enough to compliment the malts without rendering the beer one-dimensional. The malts move from sweet to biscuit-like while the hops take on a more pine-y character through the mid-palate leading to a dry finish with herbal accents.

Mouth-feel is medium full, with fairly moderate carbonation. Alcohol is well-controlled, could even be session-able for some.

A very good, if rather expensive ($15 for a six-pack in southside VA) IPA. The hop character is pretty assertive while not being overpowering and the malt backbone is quite solid. Easier to drink than many in the style and should pair well with a lot of bold-er flavored foods, unlike a lot of IPA's which can wreck one's palate. I would say this one is a bit closer to an East Coast IPA than a lot of other representatives of the form from California (think closer to Bell's Two-Hearted Ale than to Firestone Walker or Stone,) which is personally fine by me as that's closer to what I prefer, though as always your mileage may vary. For my part I could gladly come back to this one in the future (though again, ouch, the price.)

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.37 out of 5 based on 13,666 ratings.
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