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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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,447 | Ratings: 13,532
Photo of cbn
3.52/5  rDev -19.6%
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 -1.6%
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 -19.2%
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 -3.2%
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 -15.3%
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 -0.9%
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 them...off 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 +2.7%
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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Photo of lwillitz
3.97/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12-oz bottle into Belgian ale glass

A - 2 fingers of white foam over a cloudy body of golden amber; nice lace

S - grapefruit, tropical fruit, floral; inviting

T - grapefruit, tropical fruit, pine, bready malt, touch of herbal

M - smooth chewy full body, high carbonation, a bit astringent

O - Sculpin is a very nice IPA.

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Photo of Alias2325
3.46/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok look, I'm not trying to be a beer snob or pile on or anything like that, buttttt I'm sorry this is not a 97 beer. What am I missing? It's easy to drink yes, but very little to offer in terms of smell, barely any hop taste, no bitterness... No way would I spend $15 on this again when I can get captain's daughter and sip for $15... Different style I understand just comparing price point. Maybe it's better on draft I dunno...

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Photo of LampertLand
3.98/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Ballast Point Brewing 'Sculpin IPA' @ 7.0% , served from a 650 ml bottle purchased for $9.60
A-pour is a light gold from the bottle to a slight hazey gold in the glass with a medium size white head leaving a streaky lace along the pint
S-citrus & fruit
T-uber tasty IPA , with a dry finish
MF-ok carbonation , feels full bodied
Ov-good beer & IPA
prost LampertLand

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Photo of DanPiek
2.11/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

I have no idea why this beer rates so high with everyone. Maybe they are not very experienced in drinking a variety of IPAs. Compared to coors light this is a 97, but as far as IPAs go it is as generic as they come. No hop flavor other than bitterness, no malt, crappy carbonation. Overall, nothing special.

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

Really right on the money in terms of taste for an IPA - but if you're familiar with the style it's more of the same - although a superior exemplar. Lots of bitter tropical hops and a generous malt bill. A very sessionable, crisp, juicy, bitter, hoppy beer that goes down easy and finishes dry.

My only criticism of this beer is that the aroma is rather weak, that it doesn't retain a head for that long, and that although it is delicious and well made - it just doesn't do much to distinguish itself from the rest of the plethora of choices of incredible IPA's on the market.

100 times better in cans and when it's within no more than three months of it's born on date.

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Photo of Caj1
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a can into my trusty tulip glass.

Appearance: looked pretty good to me. The beer was a nice amber with a tinge of orange, bright, a little bit hazy. Nice, creamy head that lasted about three sips. Decent lacing. It's an IPA, alright.

Smell: a good balance of fruity smells (not quite citrusy) and green grassy smells. A whiff of bread but nothing to speak of. This portends a balanced, bright flavor.

Taste: Balanced. Light and crisp by IPA standards. The hops were at the front (as they should be) but didn't take over the flavor of the beer. Complex. Sort of reminded me of lemons and peaches with green herbal flavor, and the malty tastes were subdued but did enough to keep the hops in check. About a medium on the bitterness scale.

Mouthfeel: A little bit heavy but I could probably session this. Crisp, dry finish. Astringent, but not too much. It didn't hang around too long after swallowing, which is fine by me.

Overall: I don't know, I feel like this beer might have been hyped a bit and maybe some of its contemporaries have surpassed it by a slim margin. Still, I gotta give it to Ballast Point. This is a damn fine beer and could be one of my go-tos in a few months.

To good health and good beer.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.03/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clean amber, with a big head of off-white suds. Decent lace.

Aroma: Crisp grapefruit and spicy floral hops. Beautiful!

Taste: A bouquet of floral and citrus hops, with a hint of bitterness at the finish. This is an exemplary American IPA and a delicious drink, for sure.

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Photo of zshaft
3.67/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

looks ok in the glass with light orange hue. sudsy head. nose is grapefruit and some biscut with not much else to me. fairly weak. taste follows nose with some pineapple and grapefruit near the end palate with light cracker malt in there to balance it out. mouthfeel is rather thin. I dunno. I don't see all the fuss over this. ive had this beer many times and always think the same thing. ..meh.... not great. not bad.

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Photo of WoodButcher
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ballast Point has recently come to Richmond, Va following us landing Stone's east coast brewery. Rumors even started swirling that BP was looking at us as a possible location for their expansion. I've been wanting to try their much-hyped brews, but at $15/6-pack their product is almost double that of other good beers, and close to 50% more than Stone's fine offerings. I felt like I should get a happy ending with it at that price. So when I saw a mixed 12 for $21 and change I decided to give 'em a whirl. First up, the much lauded Sculpin.

It poured a hazy apricot color with a dense, medium thickness head that slowly dissipated and left fine lacing. Nose was typical IPA with citrus, grass, but not as big as I expected. Taste was quite pleasant. With "American IPA" I was expecting one of these absurd, overly hopped beers. Instead it was balanced with a moderate bitterness on the backend. Mouthfeel was typical for an IPA with fine carbonation.

So in the end it was a very good (wait for it) IPA. In other words, I see this beer as a bit of hype. It's a nice session beer, the balanced hopping makes it enjoyable instead of some of these ridiculous attempts at cramming as many IBUs into a pint as possible. But in the end it isn't anything "amazing". It is better than most IPAs but alas...no happy ending. If it were priced competitively with even the other high-end IPAs I'd consider buying it (when I want an IPA). But at $15/6? No thanks.

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Photo of Bunman3
4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This truly is a world class beer. I've been wanting to try it for a long time and it definitely met my expectations. Easy to drink, full of citrus and muted pine flavors, balanced with a nice malt base. Truly lovely!

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Photo of OldSwampy
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Excellent apricot color with orange tones. White or off-white head with firm carbonation. Wonderful nose, a blend of conifers, citrus, and other tropical fruits. Flavor, as promised by the nose, and then some. Delightful hops just as an IPA should have, but despite their prominence they were balanced. Mouthfeel clean, with some smooth creaminess in the middle that was not distracting. This beer deserves the accolades it has received.

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Photo of sjdevel
4.64/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Poured slightly hazy deep gold/copper color. Less carbonation than expected (poured from a 12 oz can). Head recedes quickly, but the lacing continues on (1 finger head upon pour). This one was a bit darker than I expected.

Very floral and hoppy!!! Rich, earthy, and buttery scents fill the air. Sweet caramel malt and toffee also wafts upward.

Wow!! A decent hop bitterness punch right up front, but not overpowering the other flavors. Hops add citrus, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, etc., to the next round. Mixed in is a sweet caramel malt. There is a rich savory buttery flavor as well. Once they trail off, more citrus and malt flavors continue.

There is a light/medium mouthfeel here. Medium bodied with lower carbonation.

This is a great IPA (as expected). I seemed to like the flavor of this one better than the highly acclaimed Pliny the Elder. It is very rich and less on the IBU/Bitterness scale (which I do like better – but personal preference). I understand that Pliny is considered a “Double IPA” so it is more bitter, but I enjoyed the Sculpin more so.

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Photo of HenryCrow
4.72/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Clear golden orange with a white head and some lacing. Big hop aroma of citrus, pine, cat pee and flowers. Really bitter up front but balanced, clean fermentation and no real alcohol taste. Medium body with average carbonation and dry. Really good IPA

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

Golden copper color with quarter inch head. Robust tropical flavors, citrus, pine, and other fruity notes. Great tropics to hops combo. Feels great. Nice aftertaste for this full, excellent IPA. Will revisit for sure.

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Photo of jmd1978
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pale copper color with maybe half finger of head. Nose of apricot, citrus, tropical fruits, little peach. Taste of lemon, pine, orange peel, tropical fruits, and nice hoppy bite on the back end with a hint of breadiness. Dry finish with a nice lingering feel at the end. This is a very good IPA. Very light and refreshing with the bitterness you love. I prefer their dorado but this is a close second in the Ballast line up.

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Photo of BucBasil
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pure clear orange color with a two finger off-white head. Smells pine with citrus rind in there. Smooth and somewhat fruity. Accessible but with a big character. The bitter dryness is just enough to make you want another sip. Very refreshing without being mouth-numbing like some other modern IPAs. Definitely a great example of the type.

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Photo of anteatr23
4.02/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours filtered and golden, low carbonation with a one finger head. Smells of pine and citrus with sticky hops. Taste is bitter, bready malts, and pretty nicely balanced. Light mouthfeel, somewhat watery. Not bad overall when nothing special is available, this IPA should do the trick.

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Photo of daliandragon
4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I couldn't believe I had never reviewed this since it's something of a legend and has been available in NC for years. Pours a lighter color than you expect, kind of a dark straw but almost opaque in its translucence. Nice, tight bubbled off white head that lasts a few minutes but no more. Solid lacing appears later. The nose is strong. All kinds of friendly tropical fruit flavors: orange, grapefruit, kiwi, lime, others...

Taste is heavy grapefruit and pine needles. The texture is very dry but simultaneously quenching. The finish is clean yet the aftertaste lingers beautifully. A little bit of buttery bread at the way back. For me this is very well done. Big, powerful flavor, yet under control, and without too much carbonation or alcohol burn. The whole thing is tight and disciplined throughout.

High drink-ability here. It's certainly not cheap, but these guys know they have a great product, and that people will pay fourteen bucks a sixer for it. One of the best of the style, period.

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Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.38 out of 5 based on 13,532 ratings.
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