Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
2,424 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 2,424 | Ratings: 13,377
Photo of detgfrsh
3.9/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an undated bomber. Pours an amber color with a finger of fluffy white head. Smell is mostly grapefruit. Medium body, taste is mostly hop bitterness which is strong but not excessive. I'm a little puzzled why it's currently rated 97 - World Class, it's certainly a good IPA but not exceptional.

 298 characters

Photo of Zythophile
3.71/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Date: none
Palate Contaminants: none

Gotta start somewhere with the Sculpins.

Appearance is an slightly opaque gold with fine particulates visible, plus medium lacing in the glass.

Smell is the most floral I've run into thus far. Lots of tree flowers.

Taste is just absolutely dominated by hoppy bitterness. There's not much room for anything else. I'm trying to assess sweetness, and all I get is bitter. I'm trying to assess savoriness, and all I get is bitter. I'm looking for any range of flavors, and all I get...

Feel is moderately carbonated, par for the course.

I don't know if I want to try any more of this line. I can appreciate hops, but I'm not some addict looking for pure dope. Luponic Distortion from Firestone is plenty bitter, but it also has some range.

 785 characters

Photo of slapshot747
4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A delicious, well-balanced IPA that is excellent from nose to finish. It has multiple layers of varied and subtle fruit notes that change from front to back. The consistency of Ballast Point's batches is a credit to their process. It's wide availability is something to be thankful for.

 286 characters

Photo of woomThomas
3.76/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

When pouring the beer, you get an amber beer with white foam.
The foam has small means bubbles and is perfectly right.
The foam stick around for a while and leave little trace in the glass.
Hop aroma will direct, a little malt notes.
Behind this, we find the fruity tones of grapefruit.
A little tropical and mixed herbs, and a little caramel.
The first thing you taste the hops and subsequent bitterness.
Both hops and bitterness are dominant but behind that is a lovely taste of the grapefruit.
Some mixed tropical flavors of orange and a little lemon.
Some spices, herbs and a touch of toasted coming towards the end.
The hops and bitterness are dominant and sits in all the time and a moderately while afterwards.
I think both hops and bitterness takes over a bit much and that the other flavors will not forward enough.

 824 characters

Photo of 11-52_4hops
3.63/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had a bottle of this about a year ago in which I thought the grapefruit bitterness was a bit overwhelming (even wondered at the time how they could also make a grapefruit sculpin that possibly had more grapefruit flavor). A friend gifted me a can, so I thought I would give it another try. This time, it is the opposite -- very little nose. The flavor is a nice smooth, tasty IPA -- but a little subdued and unremarkable. I don't know -- maybe the Thai food I had on Saturday destroyed my palate for the week - or maybe the can is old.

 539 characters

Photo of Kasabear
3.58/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Slight haziness nice lacing. Smell is nice but not exceptional. Taste is very good but I expected more from such a highly rated brew. I'll buy it again but I won't seek it.

 172 characters

Photo of trishhart
4.68/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured it has an Amber color. Very light head and minimal carbonation. Smell is very fruity, citrus and hops. Taste is the best. Full fruity and citrus flavor with after taste of hops and spice. Smooth finish. I highly recommned to drink ice cold and relaxing on the beach kinda beer. Really good. One of my favorite IPA.

 321 characters

Photo of Skrumpy
3.93/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obviously this beer has had numerous positive reviews & this one will add to that. I bought a 22 oz bottle and poured it into a standard pint glass. Light amber color, nicely carbonated. Beautiful head that slowly receded to a full film across the glass. This beer has a wonderful bouquet of citrus. The bottle lists some fruits in regards to flavor. I could taste apricot, grapefruit & orange. 70 IBUs give it that hoppy punch, but not over the top. Enough to satisfy any hop head. Warm, rich, carmel malt gives it the velvet sphere that forms in your mouth after you sip it. Each sip tastes better than the previous - a sign of a good beer! I would drink this again.

 679 characters

Photo of Twisted_Halo
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The other sterling reviews cover what I'd say. So, I'll use this space to respond to the idiots calling them sellouts and/or downgrading their beer because they decided to make some money. This is a quote from the founder of Ballast Point shortly after the deal was made with Constellation, "Constellation has guaranteed that this brewery will remain true to its roots. There will be no coast-to-coast ad campaigns similar to the ones touting Corona. No changes in the brewing team, no shift in management. As important as that was for us, it was key for them. That’s what they are investing in, they want to make sure it’s me and my team doing what we do best. It will be the same people making the same beer, with the same culture and approach.” I get not liking big business, stay away if you want. But if you liked the beer before then you are still going to like it now.

 881 characters

Photo of StringsAreWings
4.59/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful translucent gold with just a touch of haze. Nice 2 finger head recedes in 1 minute to a thin halo around the edge of the glass. The smell gives away what is in store with a great nose of fruity hops and pine. Taste matches the smell with a bit of citrus in the aftertaste. If you stop drinking an even stronger aftertaste of grapefruit will commandeer the palate for a good 5 minutes. Feel is close to perfect. When you take it in you don't even feel the carbonation for a minute then just enough fizzy micro bubbles appear on the tongue to add some zing to each mouthful. This is on the door step of the greats for me. For this beer to be available in many supermarkets now to me means craft beer has conquered the market.

 741 characters

Photo of Finkline
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a fantastic beer. I tried this on tap last year and I have been hooked ever since. I'm trying to get to all the flavors of Sculpin. There are a bunch. This beer is so good that that you don't want to put it down and you end up drinking the first one fairly fast. Then it's on to number 2, be careful this second one could sneak up on ya and bite ya in the @$$. It's potent! A 6 pack has put me down for the count. In a happy as a pig in slop kind of way. Can't wait to get down south to one of their breweries. If you see it in the store do yourself a favor and try it. It is pricey, especially for 6-pack, but well worth it.

 633 characters

Photo of Beginner2
4.11/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I suppose the story here is what is called niche marketing.
Crafters brewers who love their trade make a ridiculously grape-fruity hoppy IPA.
It develops a major following of hop-heads... almost second to none.
During the course of this, the brewery makes other beers... proving their skill.
Some beverage company eventually buys them for a hard-to-believe sum.

Moral of the story: love what you do well and it all works out in the end.

P.S. For my palate, this is too hoppy... although I will admit that the hops eventually receded and the grapefruity came out as it warmed.

 579 characters

Photo of HappyGuy12345
4.88/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Sampled from a tulip glass in Ballast Point Tasting Room in San Diego
Appearance: Golden honey color with approximately 1.5 fingers of head.
Smell: Mix of hops and citrus.
Taste: Very clean tasting IPA with plenty of characteristic hop taste along with hints of citrus. Achieves a very good balance of bitterness. As a good IPA, there is no bitter aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Moderate amount of carbonation. Goes down quite easy. Medium body.
Overall: An outstanding IPA that is surely worthy of its high score from Beeradvocate. Definitely one of the best IPAs that I have ever tried.

 585 characters

Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.87/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A beautifully clear golden, slightly Amber color1 finger head. Aroma is a bit dank, citrusy, orangey, pineapple. Smells like it will be sticky. Tastes a little more sappy with some medium amounts of piney bitterness. Grapefruit. More orange and citrus. Overall, this could easily be a nice go to IPA. Though there are other IPAs you have access to NYD, that you prefer more. This is a nice change and something you'd certainly not turn down.

 441 characters

Photo of jaehongcho
4.12/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Much has been said about this beer and I'll make it short.

L: A clear golden body color, with very nice head retention that is an inch thick.

S: The aroma is again very citrusy. Pineapple dominant at first and then peach and apricot notes follow.

T: The taste is very complex. It's resiny, floral and piny while maintaining its hoppy character. That peachy/apricot aroma is fairly visible in the taste as well.

F: Moutfeel is very crispy. For me, it's on the harsher end but it's still nice.

 499 characters

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

Appearance: This IPA pours a clear bright golden orange color.

Overall: The aroma on this beer is very unique for an IPA. Mango is the strongest scent along with peaches, lemon, orange, and a slight pine bitterness as well. The flavor is loaded with grapefruit and tangerines being very dominant followed up with a touch of caramel malt. The hops are extremely fresh and vibrant on the dry finish. The drinkability is superb on this beer, and is one of the best IPAs I’ve have ever had.

 491 characters

Photo of 911CROFT
3.65/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle into a Tulip. Paid £3.50 for a single bottle.

Pours a bright, clear, shiny, golden-orange body with small amounts of sluggish visible carbonation. A thin, one-finger in height, white coloured head fades disappointingly quickly to a patchy film, leaving behind only two or three token splashes of soapy lace.

Big, juicy, citrus hop profiles make up the majority of the nose. Grapefruit flesh and peels undoubtedly dominate, but floral and pine aromas are also noticeable in the background. Gentle agitation reveals sweeter orange notes and hints of light-skinned stone fruit, but only after being allowed to warm. Taste initially follows suit with big, bold, juicy, sweet grapefruit leading upfront, followed by a little orange and a delicate floral profile. Towards the mid-palate, resinous pine flavours build with more intensity than the nose suggested, later combining with grapefruit pith and rind to provide an increasing bitterness towards the finish. Subtly sweet malts come through just enough on the end to keep bitterness in check, taming the 70IBU’s, without deviating from the hop forward structure. In the mouth a light body and low carbonation feel a tad thin, but still crisp and refreshing. Grapefruit and citric peels linger long after the swallow, giving a dry, thirst quenching gentle bitterness and a touch of astringency that quickly encourage another sip.

Overall this is a very good beer. It’s hugely crisp, zesty and refreshing, and at 7% ABV also ridiculously sessionable. It manages to deliver plenty of intense citrusy hop flavour without the over-the-top, unpleasant bitterness I usually associate with the style. If I had better access to it in the UK I could easily see it becoming a fridge staple. Recommended.

 1,762 characters

Photo of CommonSense
3.5/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Support your local craft brewer. Even if it costs an extra buck or 2 for a 6-pack, it's worth it.

Better ingredients, better beer, better company.

 159 characters

Photo of The_Snow_Bird
3.88/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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. Not too overwhelming. Very hoppy with a light caramel taste.

 180 characters

Photo of mjfv23
4.03/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 2/11/16
Poured into a Sam Adams pint glass (they were free).
Color: dark amber like apple juice w/ 1.5 inch head lots of quick rising bubbles even 3 minutes later.
Smell: not my favorite, seems a little dirty maybe even some rotten onion on there.
Taste: I didn't like IPA's for quite some time but drank them every know and then until I could appreciate them. This was an eye-opener for me. It's not so bitter that I want to eat something between sips. Rather it was enough to have me going back for another gulp. The malt definitely shows up mid palate but is quickly replaced on the finish. Finish is clean, with definite notes of grapefruit pith (the white part on the rind)
The mouthfeel is pretty smooth with just a slight tingle.

Overall I would have to say that this is one of my favorite American IPA's so far. However we shall see what the future holds.

 874 characters

Photo of MarkQ617
4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this poured into a pint glass. Color was a translucent gold, bit lighter than I like in my IPAs. Everything else about this beer was very very good. The flavor and aroma were strong on citrus, super that in an IPA. Mouthfeel was a little harsh, but not terrible. Meets the hype.

 296 characters

Photo of Trevor11
4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Having this beer tastes like what the fundamental idea of an IPA should taste. It is clear, amber gold that has about half inch head and considerable lacing. The body is bitter with lots of juicy, wet grapefruit and ends with a crisp tonic/La Croix/soda water ending. One of the most solid year round ipas I have had.

 317 characters

Photo of chupachups01
3.11/5  rDev -29%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hi points for this beer holding up this long. Poured into Teku glass after being bottled for 6 months. Slightly hazy pale gold. Aroma lacks what I had back in California. Taste is still a very well balanced beer. Solid.

 219 characters

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

Poured from 12 oz. bottle, cloudy golden-orange. Bubbly, cream colored head that hangs for a minute before tapering off to a ring that stays around.

Smell is dank, piney grapefruit... very pungent. Light to medium body with good carbonation.

Sharp flavors hit you first with the pine and hops, bitterness sets in and develops throughout. Long finish really puts the citrus notes on display.

Overall, this is easy to drink and really delicious. If you didn't know Ballast Point was owned by one of the big boys you would be very excited to find this IPA, and in that spirit, I'm very happy to enjoy it!

 604 characters

Photo of HotDogBikeRide
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a very small jar like glass. I didn't store the beer upright because I'm an idiot, and I'm kinda concerned it went bad after trying the first one, loving it and noticing such a difference from the second. But I'm going to review the second and update if I get it again or another from the pack jumps out. Edit: the third did.

Pours a straight gold with a thin line of foam, some lacing, smell is a deep floral, orange/citrus zesty hops with a touch of malt. Taste is on point with the smell but is different from many IPA's with the feel - very bright, refreshing, clean, creamy taste. A little bit of hop oil, resiny syrup taste that lingers on the finish. Definitely good, but it runs for pretty expensive at the gas station (who is the only one carrying it around, $14.99). I probably should've taken better care of the 6-er as the first one was tremendously more satisfying and unique. Will have to be back eventually.

 949 characters

Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 2,424 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.