Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
526 Reviews
Habanero SculpinHabanero Sculpin

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Sculpin IPA with Habanero Pepper began as a crazy experiment that’s taken on a life of its own. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite has made the original one of our favorites, this version takes that balance of flavors to the next level with the citrusy, floral heat of habaneros. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick.

Added by billshmeinke on 02-26-2011

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Reviews: 526 | Ratings: 2,564
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap for the 2nd Anniversary event at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-white head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of citrus zest, herbal hops, and somewhat mild pepper and habanero aromas. Taste is the same with a burning habanero flavor in the throat on the finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good treatment for Sculpin and very interesting to try but there is no way I could drink a lot of it.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

no doubt this is an enormously high quality brew, but i just dont get the fascination with chili peppers in beer. that said, this is among the best i have had, certainly the best that isnt a dark beer. something about the citrusy hops and the habanero spice really work well together. i like that you can get all the flavor of the pepper before the heat comes on, this might be one of the few beers that shows the flavor of the pepper first, and i appreciate that immensely. the hops are awesome, but they cant beat the heat in the finish, which comes on slow but burns low and slow in the back of the throat awhile. the sweetness at the end helps balance it, and it still feels juicy. in the end, i was glad to be sharing a bottle, and truthfully, it just reminded me how good sculpin ipa is as a base beer. it needs nothing at all. that said, its one of my favorite chili beers going, and if thats your cup, then this is your tea. i have no doubt at all about that

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Photo of Knapp85
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Was a little in the fence about trying this one but I was able to purchase a 5oz pour of it and figured that should be plenty. The beer is a nice looking hazy orange color with a thin white head on top. The retention and lacing were both pretty good here. It's a nice looking beer for sure. The smell of the beer is really nice too, the mango-like hops pop out of the subtle pepper aromas this beer has, reminds me of the Habanero Mango wing sause at Buffalo Wild Wings. The taste has a good complexity to it. The initial flavor is the hoppy IPA, that changes into the spicy pepper that is dominant but not overwhelming. The finish left me wanting another sip. The mouthfeel was smooth, nicely carbonated and surprisingly drinkable. Overall it's a hot beer for sure, but there was some really nice aspects of it that I found really interesting. Worth trying if you can tolorate heat.

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Photo of metter98
3.77/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

On-tap at Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC

A: The beer is clear amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a patch of bubbles in the center and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: LIght aromas of grapefruit hops and habanero chillies are present in the nose.
T: As you swirl the beer around in your mouth, the habanero becomes hotter and hotter. The heat particularly stands out in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The habaneros make your mouth tingle in the aftertaste.
O: This is an interesting beer, but the habaneros completely turn an excellent beer into a mediocre one. The spicy heat makes it very difficult to drink and I'm glad that I had a small serving size.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Sculpin that we've known and loved takes a baptism in the capsaicin pool for a spicy and sinister session that begs for the high quaffing rates of the bright IPA but with a kick that suggests otherwise.

Bright and coppery, its brilliant glow pushes a creamy, cottony swath to the rim- not all in all separate from the original. But Its hop-driven scent carries a tinge of evaporated heat that hides neatly behind the citrus, tropical and exotic herbal scent. Caramel and honey give an even coat to the tongue and seduce the tastebuds with its creamy softness before the heat begins to build.

Shortly into the middle portion of taste, the beer's floral spiciness peaks through the grapefruit, tangerine, mango, pineapple and passionfruit and introduces a slow simmering heat. As the taste unfolds, the hops turn resinous and decidedly bitter while the growing warmth takes the senses by surprise.

Creamy, dry and unquestionably warm, the medium-light ale releases its sweetness and favors hops and peppers there on out. Its spicy capsaicin exacerbates the hops and creates a sharper, spicier hop bite than the hops can merely achieve on their own. Piney, grassy and pithy flavors accompany the heat into a long simmering fruity aftertaste.

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Photo of brentk56
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Arrives with some lazy bubbles topping the clear amber liquid; some clumps stick to the side of the glass

Smell: Citrusy grapefruit with a hot roasted pepper edge that burns the nostrils

Taste: A touch of biscuit, up front, followed by a citrusy/habanero blast that overwhelms the tongue by mid-palate; the heat dominates the finish, though there some grapefruit lingers underneath

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; the burning sensation tingles the lips

Overall: Glad to try this but this is not for everybody; the heat makes it tough to consume in any quantity

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Photo of kojevergas
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served on-draught into a New Belgium stem-goblet at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger head of beige colour and nice frothy consistency. Good thickness, great cream, and excellent retention (~7 minutes). Body colour is a vibrant transparent translucent copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Head is soft, fluffy, and luscious. Very appealing for the style.

Sm: Floral hop aroma is prominently featured. Biscuit malt. Pale malts. Some grapefruit citrus ester bite. A bit nectary. A mild strength aroma. Quite appealing. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

T: Prominent floral hops up front with some very balanced citrusy zest hop notes, including grapefruit. It's complemented nicely by a pale malt body which is pleasant and refreshing.

The habanero pepper hits on the climax - seemingly timid at first but burning strong on the aftertaste. The heat waits; most chili beers don't have that effect and tend to be immediately spicy.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. Lovely execution with a balance of refreshing hoppy notes up front and intriguing but not scorching heat on the back end. The heat - in terms of intensity and duration - is perfect to my tastes. It's exactly what I want from a chili beer. Fantastic execution. Excellent build for the concept and style. The heat disguises the light bitterness found in regular Sculpin. Very flavorful.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Refreshing. Lightly oily. Excellent carbonation. Suits the flavour profile very well. Not biting or rough. It could be a bit softer. Good thickness. Great presence on the palate. Great body.

Dr: Definitely the best chili beer I've had; the habanero isn't overpowering but rather feels well incorporated into the careful balance. Hides its ABV well. I'd get it again, and I could actually have more than one in a night - you can't say that about most chili beers. A great marriage of habanero with hops. Stands out as special. I'd recommend it to friends. Very drinkable, but pricey at $10.00 a pint. Would pair great with pizza.

Low B+

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Photo of emerge077
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright orange, flecks of lace all around the glass. Sharp clarity.

Aroma is indicative of the chili heat, blends nicely with the citrus and caramel malt of the base beer.

Taste has a building moderate heat from the habanero addition. Pretty interesting as a Chile Beer. Blistering heat subsides after a little bit, citrus notes. Overall I liked it, worth a try if you can stand the heat.

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Photo of largadeer
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at Publick House. Pretty standard clear amber Sculpin appearance. The head is thin and fleeting, settling to a film.

Big tropical fruit hoppiness on the nose along with equally big habanero. Oily, peppery, completely dominated by hops and peppers with a negligible malt character. Strangely, the habanero and hops work pretty well together.

Peppers are actually more dominant on the palate. It's pretty sticky and oily, with plenty of pineapple and grapefruit behind the burning habanero. As the nose implies, malt is completely overshadowed by the hops and peppers. The body feels light like regular Sculpin, but the peppers replace the drying crispness with an oily heat. The heat lingers throughout the finish, but it isn't too excessive or harsh. Not a subtle beer by any means, but really pretty tasty. Recommended if you like the flavor and heat of habaneros.

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Photo of mothman
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Such an awesome beer. Hot and spicy, but not overdone. You can feel the burn, but it is a good burn. I really enjoyed this offering and plan on getting more.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/29/2015. Pours slightly hazy/cloudy golden orange color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy off white head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, habanero pepper, lemon zest, orange peel, light pine, honey, light caramel, and floral/grassy earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of citrus/tropical hops, habanero pepper, and light-moderate malt notes; with good strength. Taste of huge grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, lemon zest, orange peel, habenero pepper, pine, honey, light caramel, and floral/grassy earthiness. Good amount of pine/grassy bitterness and pepper spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, peach, mango, lemon/orange peel, pepper, pine, and floral/grassy earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical hops, habanero pepper, and light-moderate malt flavors; with a great malt/bitter/spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Good amount of dryness from bitterness and pepper spice after the finish as well. Moderate amount of pepper heat, but not overwhelming. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and moderately crisp/sticky/spicy mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming other than the pepper heat on the finish. Overall this is an incredible pepper spiced IPA. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/tropical hops, habanero pepper, and light-moderate malt flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink even with the pepper spice and heat. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap last night at Jake's Billiards here in GSO.Came in a goblet a burnt orange infused golden with a 1/2 finger head that lasted for awhile.Big citric hops than a big burning heat,both are large and in charge.At first the flavors were of big citric and resiny hops with a slower burn but as I drank more the heat overpowered the hoppiness and kinda took over.I like heat and I liked this beer but one goblet is all I could really drink of it.

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Photo of jlindros
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tap at prezo.

Decent creamy 1/2 finger head fades semi slowly with nice lacing, hazy honey amber orange color.
Nose brings basic sculpin, citrus hops, grassy floral, hints of tropical notes, grapefruit, etc, a bit faded, with nice mild habanero background aroma, touch of malt.

Taste brings immediate habanero, nice big heat and tons of habanero pepper flavor, with little citrusy hop, mild grassy floral and spicy hop note, little grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. Nice creamy malt base too, balanced well. Finish is drier and long lingering pepper heat, little habanero flavor in the back of the throat, mild citrus hop and fair bitterness lingering.

Mouth is med bod, nice carb, plenty of pepper heat.

Overall quite nice, good base IPA that is still fairly present but great habanero flavor and good great level, nice heat but still drinkable and enjoyable. Unfortunately the only issue is that the great initial hops seem to have been drowned out a bit by the habanero, although I love habanero and it seems to bring it's own citrus note, but still a tasty beer. If I didn't know the base was sculpin and was just an IPA this would be fantastic, but as I know the base sculpin is so much more tropical fruit hops that are mostly drowned out, it loses a bit of points.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.91/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Ballast Point Brewing Co. "Habanero Sculpin"
on tap @ The Boathouse, Conshohocken, PA

Pepper beers are always a personal thing. You can review it as you would any other beer, but in the end it's always hedonistic when it comes to having a glass in front of you. Personally I like pepper beers. I like the flavor of the pepper, and the spiciness. With that said, I found a nice habanero flavor to it, which is always hard to get because of the heat, even if you've de-veined and de-seeded. I know people will argue that point, but keep in mind I'm saying I liked that they got a good amount of flavor. They did a good job. As to drinkability, that's up to your palate. I was a little worn out halfway through, but not to the point I couldn't finish it.

On the other hand, after a few sips I was losing the habanero flavor. And that goes for the IPA itself, which is a bit disappointing (because why not just use a basic golden ale?), but at the same time good in that it allows for the beer to continue for a bit. Flavor-wise I feel it's a trade-off. The habanero is nice, but then you don't get the full Sculpin experience.

In the end, about halfway through the serving I'd had enough. Not that I couldn't finish it, but that my senses were shot and there didn't really seem to be any reason to keep going. So, in conclusion, I'm going to place this above a lot of other pepper beers, but still say that it has limited drinkability. I'd drink this at the end of the night for a change of pace, or on special occasions (i.e. backyard BBQ, Cinco de Mayo, etc) - I might even drink it if I just got the passing desire for something peppery - but I wouldn't drink it on a regular basis.

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Photo of chinchill
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen.

A: clear, amber with a semi-durable tan head and limited lacing. Fine clariy.

Aroma: habaneros and hops in near equal balance.

Flavor: Wow! lots of habanero flavor here and medium-high hotness. The most chili flavor I've encountered in a beer, and one of th hottest.

Feel: Medium body with soft, medium carbonation. Medium+ heat.

O: an exceptional IPA well worth seeking out. Available in 6 packs.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On-tap 2/22/2015 at Natty Greene’s Tavern, in North Attleboro, MA, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains fruity citrus, floral hops and caramelized malts, but no habanero pepper.

T: The taste starts out with a huge blast of habanero pepper heat and unlike many beers of this nature, you can actually taste the habanero flavor in addition to the intense heat. However the heat is so strong that it over-powers an otherwise excellent beer. The floral hops bitterness and fruity citrus sweetness of the regular Sculpin IPA are there, but they are greatly over-shadowed.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Flavorful, goes down ok when you get used to the heat, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, I cannot remember ever trying a beer with this much heat so if that’s what you’re looking for then this beer is for you.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear deep golden honey in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation and faint amber + golden yellow highlights. The beer has a two finger tall foamy light beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of citrus/grapefruit hops over the top of light aromas of grainy malts. There is a light to moderate aroma of spicy habaneros.

T: Upfront there is a light to moderate flavor of biscuit and grainy malts with a hint of caramel sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of citrus/grapefruit hops which imparts a light amount of bitterness. Finally there is a moderate to strong flavor of spicy habanero peppers which contribute a moderate to heavy amount of lingering heat.

M: Medium bodied with slightly heavier than moderate amounts of carbonation. Dry with a moderate amount of chile heat in the finish.

O: Sculpin is probably in my top 5 easily available IPAs to drink and one that I really enjoy though the addition of the habaneros definitely reduces the drinkability of it. This beer packs a decent amount of heat and habanero flavors which do complement well with the grapefruit and grainy/biscuit malts. Nice if you are a fan of spicy beers.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy, golden-orange pour, with a small cap of foamy white head; moderate retention and lacing. Hoppy in the nose, citrus and tropical fruits, with a definite vegetal hot pepper presence. It wasn't spicy...yet. The taste started out with a good blast of citrusy hops, and just as the biscuity malts were about to make an entrance, the peppers made their presence known and pretty much conquered all else, leaving the distinctive Sculpin hops in the background, though they were never completely gone. This was a damn spicy beer, and I was definitely loving it. Considering that most chili beers can be an awful mess, this one was definitely very drinkable, about medium in body, with a nice level of carbonation. Still, I wouldn't want to drink too much of this--as opposed to a regular IPA. But it was a nice treat.

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Photo of mactrail
2.8/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This is one of those "I dare you" beers. I suppose people either love it or hate it. Looks nice enough in the glass with a decent foam and the attractive clear orangey amber color.

On first taste this seems to open a raw stripe down the throat. I can't even seem to taste the usual hop overdose, it's just hot with the afterburners blasting down your gullet. I would think there would be some aroma but my nose seems to be anaesthetized. Clearly they went for the maximum capsaicin rather than any flavor subtleties. I always find a gulp of IPA when eating hot food just throws fuel on the fire. So I suppose this is the case study of IBU plus Scoville index equals hellfire.

I"m trying to taste this objectively, but it's really more pain than pleasure. On tap at California Kebab in Pacific Beach.

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Photo of russpowell
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours an effervescent gold with a thumb of eggshell colored head. Great head retention & lacing, stays effervescent

S: Pineapple & breadyness, some grapefruit pith.

T: Grapefruit, some pepper burn, not too much, some dryness & breadyness up front. More heat, grapefruit & a little breadyness. Finishes with grapefruit, heat & a little smokeyness

MF: Medium body, fairly firm carbonation, pretty decent balance

Drinks pretty easy, I couldn't session on this but, would work well with food, or as a pallet scrubber

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Photo of Slatetank
4.46/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap a couple times lately, enjoyed chilled in a pint at Al's Pizza and Subs and Holy Hound Taproom.

The color is hazed tarnished golden with a thick white head and fine bead with good lace/retention. The smell is peppery and both citrus/spiced in a habanero earthy way with dank hops and orange zest. the feel is warming with a hint of pepper at the outset and long linger that is enhanced by medium carbonation and resinous hop w/ back of the throat on the way down as it finishes w/ alcohol augmenting the heat slightly intense the more you drink...finish is dry with peppery accent.

The taste is great considering this is an IPA transformed into a chile beer. The flavor of the habanero takes over but is supported by the hop tanginess and citrus elements with a very good flavor of pepper and mild tangerine in the background. The flavor is as good as the feel which is why to me this is an exceptional take on the style - all the quality of sculpin with a great deal of Habanero that does not exceed the levels of common sense-enjoyable if you like chile pepper in beer
Original ratings -A - 3.75 S -4.25 T4.25 M -4 O-4.25
re review
I tried this on tap 8-7 at Peachtree Family Restaurtant served chilled in a pint.

The color is a beautiful golden amber with very good head retention -a bump up from the original with ringlets of lace sticking. The smell has a mild yeast ester with light tropical fruit and mild malt smell with an earthy habanero aroma like putting a pepper up to your nostrils. The feel is very good with fierce spicy and moderately bitter combo with slight hint of tangy yeast and gentle malt with moderate carbonation and semi-dry finish with lingering heat.

The taste begins with moderately light hop flavor with slow burn of pepper creeping in with slight earthy flavor and mild fruity habanero quality with the lingering heat as mentioned in the feel adding depth to the hops with mild malt flavor in the finish. Overall I loved this even more than the first time, maybe because I knew what to expect but it is a great hot pepper IPA perhaps the best blend of Habanero in an American IPA I have tried.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Bruery Provisions

A: The beer pours a clear golden orange color with about a finger of white head.

S: At first the fruity and citrusy hops are all you smell. But soon after the habanero pepper provides some heat and a little bit of its fruitiness as well. Notes of pineapple and grass round out the nose.

T: The flavor has retained a lot of the great hoppiness that makes Sculpin what it is. Still a good amount of tropical fruit and citrus with a mild pine. The pepper flavor is mild at first but comes out a bit more as it warms. There is a definite heat on the back of the throat.

M: Medium in body and perhaps on the low end of medium in carbonation.

O: This was much better than I had anticipated, but I can't help but feel like it's just a big waste of Sculpin.

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Photo of orangesol
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Al's of Hampden.

A - Pours clear golden yellow with a nice one finger tall white head leaving light patches of lace down the glass.

S - Smells of citric hops, spicy peppers and some light caramel sweetness. The hops are strong initially but the peppers really take over as it sits in the glass.

T - Starts off with a nice citric hop bite quickly giving way to a light caramel sweetness and plenty of peppery spice. The first half of the glass wasn't too bad but the second half was all habanero spice. The spice sticks around long after the finish, lingering on the pallet for quite awhile.

M - Compared to the regular sculpin this one is all peppers. The spice grabs hold of the pallet and never lets go. A touch of hop bitterness tries to break through but the peppers never really let it come out completely.

O - I have wanted to try this one ever since I heard about it. I love sculpin but the peppers really drown out the best parts of the base beer. Glad I got to try it but I doubt I would get it again.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a shaker pint glass at Beer Market - Schaumburg.

After a handful of malt-bombs, I felt it time to take on something different. This stuff pours a clear brass topped by a half-finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises grapefruit zest, chile peppers, pine resin, and a touch of honey. The taste brings in more of the same, the citrus, pine, and new-coming greens melding surprisingly well with the peppers' heat, holding it at bay 'til it's able to spread its wings near the finish. The heat is palpable, but nowhere near o'erwhelming. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a very nice beer, one where hops and heat peacefully and successfully coexist. Good times.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.64/5  rDev +23.7%

Abbreviated review. Tasted at Savor 2013. Bright hops, a clean crisp center, and a lightly fruity body pave the way for a white-hot habanero haymaker to the face. Hands down the best chili beer we’ve ever had

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 2,564 ratings.
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