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Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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510 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: 510 | Ratings: 2,514
Photo of elNopalero
4.55/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I’ve only had this on tap (so far, at least) and to be honest I preferred it to the Sculpin I’ve had as of late (from the bottle)… I imagine the freshness factor to be key here, but also… ah, that habanero heat! It brings everything into focus in a way that I just love.

Pours a golden-amber with nice foaming. There’s a sweet habanero kick to the aroma atop a light citrusy hop profile. The flavor starts off smoothly bitter with a touch of fresh citrus and a hint of pine… but then BAM! Up kicks in the heat, and that sweetness. Long, lingering, spicy finish. Love it or hate it, this is not for the timid.

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Photo of Brenden
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

It was a good idea just to do a half-pour...and to share...

This version of Sculpin seems maybe a shade darker than the golden-amber brew I remember. The pepper's oils, most likely, seem to have stunted the growth of the head a bit. The beautiful big, strong head I remember isn't quite that, but is a certainly respectable finger's height with equally respectable hold and lacing.
The earthy, floral, bright citrus and tropical notes, and resin are still here, They pour out like the original, and I'm pretty excited that very little is changed. Early on, though, the heat and pepper skin, mildly vegetal, that come out do dull the beauty a little. I'm glad to note that I can still call it very good, even if not as good as it is in its original form.
Juicy hops are still allowed out on the tongue, but the burn starts at the very beginning of the sip. The beauty of any well-made beer including hot peppers is both in the build-up of heat without being overbearing straight off, and allowing the flavors to coalesce as a whole despite the heat. This beer just about manages that, but the habanero is quite powerful. I can't quite get the full effect of the hops, but almost.
The peppers' oils seem to add a bit of slickness to what would be a creamy, fluffy beer with a good bite to it. It's still crisp, and it maintains a moderate smoothness, though the finish loses its cleanness.

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Photo of fps_dean
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

I had this on my birthday on tap at a local restaurant. This was my first beer from the Ballast Point brewery but will be far from my last.

I have never had a pepper beer before this either. Being a huge spicy foods fan, I had to try this. I was not worried about the heat -- I cook with habaneros, ghost and scorpion peppers regularly.

It was a light orange color in my glass.

Smelled like an IPA. Tasted like an IPA. I did not find the heat particularly overwhelming, and my mouth didn't even noticeably burn until I drank half of the glass, but I think that's my pepper tolerance from eating so many so often because others said this beer was hot. Overall, it's a very good tasting IPA and I would buy it for that, but not for the burn. I think I need to try the ghost pepper version.

Compared to regular Sculpin, the habaneros add a slight sweet, fruity flavor, so the hop flavor is toned down a little bit.

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Photo of Zach136
3.37/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear yellow thin head.

Aroma: Fruity habanero and hops.

Flavor: Sculpin for like 2.5 seconds, then an explosion of habanero heat. Down the throat... oh God.

Mouthfeel: Medium+ body, lingering burn.

Overall: Completely undrinkable for me. Luckily I've got some grapefruit to blend it with.

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Photo of 01001111
4.23/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: That IPA nectar orange.

S: Strong habanero fruit with a slight citrus note.

T: Overwhelming heat with habanero fruit, caramel sweetness and only a hint of floral hops and grapefruit.

M: Nectar.

O: Interesting. As a big fan of spicy food, this was just at the edge of my comfort level. However, the heat was a bit too dominant and could use a bit of tempering to let the other great Sculpin flavors shine through.

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Photo of TwoBeers
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy orange straw in color. 1 finger head that stayed with the beer for a little while. Light lacing. Light bubbling.

S: The nose on this beer is amazing. The overwhelming aroma is the habanero peppers. Nosing around a little more the Sculpin character comes though. Citrus, pine and maybe even some apricot. The aroma is very complex and definitely inviting.

T: After the beautiful nose on this beer the taste is kind of a disappointment. The habanero is quite overwhelming. I did pick up on some sweet fruits right off (apricot, peach), but the peppers quickly took over. Although not a dry beer, this did leave my mouth fairly dry from the heat of the peppers. The flavors were all there and this has a ton of character. I just wish the peppers had not been so overwhelming. Had a hard time finishing this one.

M: Light bodied, medium carbonation. Very crisp and clean with a dry habanero finish.

O: Was really excited about this beer, especially after smelling it as soon as the bartender set it down, but was a little disappointed. I'm a big fan of Sculpin and usually really enjoy chili beers (and spicy foods for that matter), but this one was just a little too much for me. Left my mouth really dry and had a hard time getting through the last half of the glass.

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Photo of Sacrifice
5/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

it's sculpin (the best), but really spicy (even better). wish i could get this in bottle. it's close to as desirable as sculpin on nitro.

just try it if you get a chance. you won't regret it. even if you don't like ipa, if you can tolerate spicy you'll enjoy it.

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Photo of Gavage
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: orange in color wih a 1" head that lasts a bit. Moderate lace paints the glass during the session.

Smell: citrus, pine, and a hint of spiciness comes through to the nose.

Taste: caramel, tropical fruit sweetness, orange, lemon zest, a soft pine flavor, and a late habanero bite that has some kick to it. Nice complimenting bitterness here.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp to start, less crisp with some dryness and hot pepper bite at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the habanero stays on the tongue.

Overall: an interesting modification of a great IPA. I found one pint enough in a session here, but defintely worthy of a try if you see it on draft.

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Photo of joeboe2001
4.49/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I enjoyed a pint of this at Adam's Rib on Kent Island on craft beer ($4 pints!) night last week.

A: The reviews I see here report everything from golden to orange to amber to yellow. I would go with golden. I guess it depends on the lighting at your favorite bar!

S: Eau d' Habanero was evident but not overpowering. Strong enough to get my attention!

T: A relatively light IPA flavor with some spice upfront and a pleasant burn on the back of your tongue after you swallow.

M: Medium and consistent carbonation-smaller bubbles that enhanced the jalapeno, but did not beat up your tongue.

O: Heat was pleasant and sufficient to add to my enjoyment of some relatively hot wings. A very good accompaniment to spicy foods.

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Photo of joe1510
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

13oz Draft
Trabes Aleshouse - Tinley Park, IL

Habanero Sculpin was set in front of me sporting a glowing orange body with surprising clarity for an infused beer. The clean white head was a finger in height and left some thin, intricate lacing down the glass. Looks Sculpin-esque.

The nose was all about brightness and depth. You're typical Sculpin aromas were present; sweet mango, ripe peach, apricot and a touch of vibrant but sweet lemon. The habaneros add a touch of earthiness to the nose. The malt profile is clean and biscuity simply lending a backbone.

I'm not a big chili beer guy, the flavors usually seem to clash. With that said Habanero Sculpin is spicy but balanced, bright, and delicious. Citrusy habanero leads things off followed closely by the strong tropical notes of mango and papaya. Stone fruit and a squeeze of lemon finish things off. The malt profile is unnoticeable but adds enough sugar to keep the hop and habanero from running rampant. I'm a fan.

A medium weight body pushes through slowly and softly with smooth carbonation. The finish is pretty dry and the habanero heat builds with each successive sip but never becomes overbearing. For a spicy beer this was incredibly easy to put away and surprisingly refreshing.

I'm a Sculpin fan and I really enjoy the habanero twist thrown into this particular batch. There's spice but the habanero is citric enough it works perfectly with the tropical, stonefruit notes of standard Sculpin. I'd order this again without a doubt.

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Photo of gillagorilla
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Max's (from notes).

A: Lacing and golden amber.

S: Spicy, spicy with some pine.

T: Pine and heat spice. Coats your mouth. Don't really get the IPA in it. All spice up front.

M: Lots of carbonation. That really brings out the spice.

O: Hot but not as hot as Ruination Tropical Heat nor as good. This was just a weird and spicy IPA.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Sculpin has always been a headache-inducing IPA for me - at its best, it's tropical, resinous, oily, and extremely vibrant. At it's worse, it's underwhelming for the price, or worst yet, displays off notes of barnyard funk and even baby diapers. I've found that on tap it's far more consistent than in the bottle, and it was drinking very well that day, which prompted me to try this edition. Consumed at Mikkeller Bar SF during Zwanze Day. Poured into a 9oz tulip wine glass.

Pours exactly like regular Sculpin on tap - orange-amber, glimmering, resinous, and thick. Contains a super frothy head with huge bubbles piled atop one another that leave behind a good deal of lacing, as well as strong head retention. This version, however, is very cleared up, and I'm wondering if the peppers made a difference overall. Bubbles glide very well on this, and I can tell that this is a fresh batch right away from the appearance.

The aroma is also pretty much like fresh Sculpin, with notes of mangoes, papaya, passion fruit, and grapefruit and orange zest, as well as piney spices. Underneath, however, the habaneros are not shy to reveal themselves, and produce a flavor that adds (duh) green peppers, chili peppers, and pepper seeds to produce a bit of heat. The result produces a Sculpin that is far more vegetal and herbal, displaying predominant notes of spicy dried flowers, tarragon, and enhanced piney, dried resin. Not as intense as expected, and pretty well done here as far as chili beers go.

Whoa! Intense heat immediately coats the palate, with an extreme bite and sting from the peppers, as well as the astringent oily piney and citrus flavors from the hops. Notes of passion fruit, mangoes, grapefruit, and limes meld with notes of spicy chili peppers, with the habaneros adding an additional tropical, warming flavor to the mix. Extra tangy and vegetal in the case, but very intense in terms of maintaining a drinkable character. This Sculpin in particular is extremely green, as displayed by the herbal, near cannabis-like qualities, but the peppers make the experience a little extra intense. Acidic, dry, and very, very prickly. Definitely a well done chili beer, but more fun for the sake of novelty than actual practicality.

This is probably the best chili beer I've had to date, but it's definitely got a lot of heat on it, as I expected and feared. I managed to finish my glass, but it required some help overall. This would be brilliant to have with honey-glazed dessert item, or used to marinade on fish or chicken, or perhaps add to a stew. I'd imagine that this tastes best fresh, and it seems to go pretty quickly as well. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for those looking to try an actually well made (if only difficult) chili beer to drink.

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Photo of KeatsShelley
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This beer is interesting. Tastes like Sculpin but with serious fiery/peppery notes in the nose and on the palate, which can dominate the sweetness of the beer. I just flat out didn't enjoy it, but I didn't enjoy it because it's a bad beer, if that makes sense. I just didn't enjoy the actual habanero features of the beer. So, it's successful in that it combines Sculpin and habanero in exactly the right way, so if you like that definitely try this one. Or...get a 2oz sample of it.

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Photo of SuperbikeShaun
4.4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Newhall Refinery in Santa Clarita, CA.

Beautiful deep golden amber in color, creamy white head with minimal lacing. The nose is dominated by peppery and citrusy aromas, primarily grapefruit coming through. It tastes exactly like Sculpin, with just a hint of capsaicin on the taste buds. However, let me warn you, this beer is genuinely hot. A 12 ounce snifter glass was a daunting task to finish. Overall, I was extremely pleased with this beer, simply a rock solid IPA with a habanero kick.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at The Avenue in Allston

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head that reduced to a thin layer. It is an orange color with a great clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Nice lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Pineapple, mango, tangerine, habanero, caramel, and bready malts.

Taste: It's habanero spicy hot. All other traditional sculpin characteristics follow.

Mouthfeel: Lots of habanero heat. I can't feel anything else. Drinks smooth, a bit hot, low to medium carbonation, and light to medium bodied. The beer got easier to drink after my mouth handled the heat.

Overall: Awesome veer, but I wish the heat could be turned down a tad. Smells like pineapple mango salsa, but the habanero takes over all the good features of the beer. Still a good beer though. I would drink it again.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had on tap at blind tiger- pours a clear golden orange color with 1.5 fingers head, decent retention, barely any lacing.

Smell is peppery and woody. A little pine hops in there.

Taste is very interesting- starts out a lot like sculpin; malty and pine hoppy, but them it takes a spicy turn. The habanero comes in full force and stays for a long while. Much spicier than other hot beers I've had.

Mouthfeel is pretty nice- medium body, well carbonated, and them that prickly vinegary burning sensation from the habanero. Very interesting beer- not something Id drink again by itself but might pair really nicely with barbecue.

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Photo of MikeMilanoDesign
4.67/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

First off if you don't like spicy things stay away. however if you spicy stuff this is great.

a: color is a nice strawy yellow.

s: hoppy but oddly warm

t: warm and woody at first. Then the habanero flavor and heat comes in at full force. not like any other pepper beer ive had where the pepper flavor is subtle. if you like habaneros you will really enjoy this beer. finishes out with a peppery hop flavor and feel.

mf: very oil heavy. first sip delivers a mouthful of hop and habanero oil that coats your mouth. then warm heat and a dry finish

overall i would recommend at least giving this beer a go. it was amazing

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Photo of rudzud
4.51/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed at the Armsby Abbey.

A - Poured into a standard pint glass a crystal clear honey hue with a one finger one head that fades to leave nice lacing and a thin blanket.

S - Aromas of very juicy sculpin backbone, juicy hops, citrus, and tropical notes (aka pineapple), nice meaty habanero flesh and some subtle heat. Incredibly inviting.

T - Taste is initial delicious sculpin tropical fruits and then KAPOW habanero flesh and great. Oh my goodness, initial pepper warmth, slightly bitter (from the seeds possibly), heady lingers in the back of the throat lightly. More of a chili beer than an ipa, however, there is a fair amount of ipa backbone that lingers. The combination of heat and hops is very well done.

M - Mouthfeel is very nice for the style, crisp, refreshing.

O - Overall this was exponentially hotter than I thought it would be. The habanero is balanced wonderfully by the bitter hops. Very well done but in the end not for the individual who fears heat.

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Photo of CasanovaCummins
3/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm a big fan of Ballast Point. I've been to the brewery and can honestly say their barrel-aged brews stand up well against anyone else's, but this offering is all flame and not as much flavor as it should be. In other words, HOT, HOT, HOT.

At first it pours and tastes like regular Sculpin, but then, WHAM, your mouth is over-whelmed with heat and any subtlety of flavor goes missing. This would be a great dare pour, but not one to have on regular rotation.

If you like Sculpin, try it. But only to see how much better the regular pour is.

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Photo of Smarty_Pints
4.28/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A- looks just like sculpin copper color with a nice sized head and a quickly dissipating head that leaves little lacing behind.

S- not overwhelming spicy like I though it might be. Smell follows regular sculpin with a good amount of spice added in.

T- there is more sweetness to it then the regular incarnation. The sweetness is just the start to it the regular hop characteristics come through that we all love from the regular sculpin but the bitterness is hidden with the spicy finish from the habanero.

M- medium carbonation and light bodied.

O- very interesting beer well balanced but I still prefer the regular variety.

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Photo of oberon
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
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 wedge
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

@ Ridgewood

I love spicy things. I love fresh Sculpin. Do I love fresh, spicy Sculpin? Yes, as it turns out.

Golden orange with a creamy topping and dripping, spotty lace. The tropical fruit of the base beer is still present in the smell, only with an obvious green, peppery aroma warning of impending spiciness. Hops quickly coated with real habanero pepper flavor...citrus pulp sweetness and mango slowly emerge. Pretty serious, real-deal heat in the throat, only without the long, lingering afterburn. Sculpin is pretty well stripped of much of its hoppy glory, but the flavor and heat of the pepper is so well done, I love it. Extremely drinkable, tingling mouthfeel. Great use of peppers.

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Photo of RyanLaw
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I had a half pint of this beer at the brewery.

A - It Looks just like regular Sculpin, amber color with two finger white head

S - Sweet and spicy and you can smell the peppers right away

T - Goes down smooth but with a big kick at the end. The heat built with each sip and was a little overpowering by the time I was finished.

M - Medium body and carbonation

O - An okay beer but a little too hot for my taste. Any more than a half pint would have probably been too much for me. I'll take the original version anyday but was glad to try a variation.

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Photo of TimReph
4.37/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The thing about this beer is that you need to have a full pint for you to fully appreciate it. My first taste of Habanero, I did not like it. Actually I thought it was too hot. But overtime, I found myself coming back for more and more, and now I am at a point where i prefer Habanero over the regular Sculpin. Give it a pint...grab some chips and salsa, and enjoy the ride. Really hope they bottle this stuff...because it is getting quite a following in San Diego.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed at the FW Invitational 2013. On such a hot day, one of the hottest beers I've ever had. . . Pours nice and yellow, looking just like regular Sculpin with a slightly lighter, thinner white head to it.

Aroma is both parts spicy habanero and the plentitude of Sculpin hops. Pretty nice, its my favorite thing about this beer.

The heat is amped up spice wise. Plenty of tongue beating pepper notes satiate the mouthfeel, the taste is still plenty hoppy and Sculpin like, with its tropical fruit forward hop flavors. The body is light, feels even lighter with the habanero kick if anything, but the base of beer is awash.

Overall, this variation is not better than original Sculpin, but it is far better than most pepper beers. Very comparable to Lagunitas Habanero IPA. Its one of those that is so hot that I can't imagine drinking more than a pint. But its not so hot that its all there is to the beer.

Would recommend.

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.74 out of 5 based on 2,514 ratings.
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