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: 2,563
Photo of mabermud
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is an unusual beer. It poured like the usual Sculpin, same body, similar head. Now the smell is different. Spicy. The taste is even better if this is your cup of tea. Nice and sweet like the original upfront, but hot going down, with some bite in the throat. There is some heat in the aftertaste. I know many won't like this, but it has its place. I enjoy this beer, but probably will not be drinking it too often. Will I avoid it, no. Will I go out and buy it, no. Is it worth a shot, yes. This is a unique creation. It has a niche.

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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 homebrew311
3.54/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to KevSal for throwing this guy in as an extra. I'm a huge fan of Sculpin and things infused with habanero. I'm a little skeptical about how this IPA will pair with fire. Lets see...

Pours golden and clear with thin layer of persistent white head. Nose features citrusy notes up front along with some mango flesh and tropical notes. The hops certainly seem to be tamed down by the presence of the peppers. There are slight hints at pepper in the nose, but its not overly obvious. The has a split second of the familiar and delicious sculpin IPA but then quickly transforms into straight fire. As it passes the palate, the habanero begins to singe everything in its path including the back of the throat. Mouthfeel is moderate with medium carbonation. Overall, the pepper is just too heavy handed here. The mangoey hops paired with habanero is a great idea in concept, but the juiciness of the hops unfortunately gets buried.

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

We pour into our Great Lakes pints. The look is similar to your standard Sculpin, with amber golden coloring, and a frothy finger and a half tall head, showing nice retention into a single sheet of lacing around the glass. The nose, too, reminds one of regular old Sculpin, but where there was once a thick brush of citric hops, is now added to by a massively perfumed floral hop bouquet. Dirty, metallic habanero heat comes with warmth, alongside biscuity pale malts, honey, cantaloupe and syrupy mango fruitiness, black pepper and tarragon spiciness, and dusty chalk. The flavor packs much, much more heat than you might anticipate. This makes it hard to quaff back, as it chokes you up if you pull too much air over it, but once you get it in your mouth to swirl, you can find notes of matchstick sulfur, authentic habanero spice and oily seediness, moss, citric, herbal, and floral hops, black pepper, basic amber and pale maltiness, moist cakey grain, and vitamin dust. The mouthfeel is clean, with nice froth, but it is left with an oily film that continues to burn until you take the next sip, with brief respite. The beer drinks quickly for what it is.

Overall, how could you not be excited to try this beer?! Huge juicy hoppiness meets meaty heat of a succulent habanero pepper…what’s not to love? Well, if you don’t like heat, then you might not love this one. That said, we felt this would actually be a nice introductory or transition beer to someone looking to get into the style. It is hot, and if you can handle moderately spicy food (read as commercially “hot” salsa), this should be no problem for you, as it isn’t nearly to the levels of Crime and Punishment, which make you sweat after the first sip. This is a really interesting direction to take an outstanding American IPA like Sculpin in. It is just so good to begin with, you end up losing a bit of that juicy hop magic under the heavy burden of the pepper. We are happy to have tried this one, and feel it would be fun, if not a little mischievous to break this out at a blind tasting.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: medium amber color, almost clear, white head a few fingers high; lace drapes and slim cap persist

S: floral and pine aromas with hints of pepper and herbs

T: subdued malts and hops under the sheen of heat this beast unleashes; you'll pick up some chewy caramel malt-esque characteristics and some of the pine resin, herbal, and floral hops, but the habanero heat is prominent, and fans of peppery, hot fare will love the tight heat o'er the crisp hops and balancing malts.

M: medium-light body, slightly slick, some carbonation, but the tingle of heat with wrap the tongue and rake the palate with spines of habanero

O: no doubt a polarizing beer - kinds hard to be too objective here, as you're either into the chile pepper heat or you're not. This is not on the same scale as Stone's Crime and Punishment, but its in the same league. One of the hotter ale I've had, and for this guy, that's great. If you don't want a vigorously spicy ale, or you're on the fence, this is probably an ale to pass on. If you're a spicy food and ale fan, you're gonna enjoy this ale.

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Photo of Ian_B
3.81/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Let me start off by saying: if you enjoy the flavour and spice of hot peppers, this is probably up your alley.

Very clear, pale orange in color and a foamy white head with great retention. Maybe the slightest bit more red colour from the habaneros, and a tiny bit of particulates.

Same aromas of mango, apricot, and white peaches as the original, but are barely noticeable as they are near instantaneously swept away by strong but pleasant habanero pepper aromas.

Habanero right up front, with remnants of the juicy sweet IPA you've come to know and love. The original flavours play a very minimal role behind the tidal wave of habanero. If you let this roll softly around your palate, you will notice the tropical juiciness in the beginning and middle, but it is rather overtaken by pepper flavours and capsaicin.

Softly yet amply carbed, with the regular IPA bitterness and hint alcohol taking a very distant backseat to the level of spice which, in this case, plays the role of dryness.

Overall, the habanero is so strong that it really detracts from the original flavour. This is not for the faint of heart, or anyone who doesn't enjoy eating raw hot peppers.

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Photo of dgilks
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear golden amber colour. Moderate off white head. Fair head retention.

Hoppy aroma with good citrus. Slightly herbal. Light malt.

Wonderful floral Habenero flavour. Moderate hop. Lightly sweet malt.

Medium body with a sharp carbonation. Good.

A really solid beer. I like the spice and the chilli flavour.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle to my FW snifter glass
From notes on 05/16/14

Have had this on tap at the brewery a few times and now from the bottle

A: Pour is a caramel amber body and looks to be a shade darker than original Sculpin. Has a faint but noticeable haze along with some coagulated protein thingies floating to the bottom. Bubbly with a finger width of khaki suds building up top. Good hang time and some nice strokes of stick across the glass.

S: Mangoes and tropical fruit with some candied citrus up front. Fresh and fruity with bright apricot and tangerine. Then the fiery Habanero spice starts to assert. I get some layers of pine and grass in between but man dat pepper. It's a formidable scent... It stings the nostrils. In a good way.

T: Starts out with a delicious fresh Sculpin highlighted by juicy mangoes, pineapple, tangerine, and some earthy evergreens. Follows with a wave of mildly hot pepper juice. Distinctly Habanero with a swelling hotness to it and a spicy burn on the finish. Fairly intense. The beer is hoppy but any bitterness is all but melted away from the peppers and same for any alcohol notes. I do like spicy and this one is a nice little stinger.

M: Light to medium body with ample carb to give a nice frothy consistency throughout. I would say there is some hop resins at play and a nice drying to it. But reality is this has a numbing effect from the pepper oils and a fiery finish! Is burning a mouth feel?

D: Pretty nice in small doses. Overall this is a very successful chili beer however going with Habanero’s reduces the drinkability considerably. The Scovilles really start to take hold of the palate. Done well but will definitely have you sweatin’ to finish the bottle.

Pairs great with cheese and works wonders for a morning beermosa or Bloody Mary.

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Photo of rawfish
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden and orange, clear with a small one finger head of tight white foam. Decent retention and moderate lacing.

Citrus and pine with a tropical flair that is toned down from the regular Sculpin. One part pineapples and mangoes the other sweet red bell pepper and other bright vegetative aromas. Caramel and sweet breads underlying to add balance.

Initial burst is that of Sculpin, caramel and tightly integrated malt backbone followed by an explosive orange/pink citrus and pine. The Habanero hits mid palate completely wiping away the hop character replacing it with some vegetative orange pepper flavor and a high spicy note that is very bright and peppery. Bitterness hints at pine but the spiciness of the Habanero is long lasting.

Medium body with good carbonation. Spicy pepper dominates and nulls any bitterness and alcohol. Surprisingly drying.

This would go well with some Mexican food about now. Much hotter in the bottle than the multiple occasions this was on tap. A good IPA/chile beer but you really need to like heat. The pepper flavors are pretty tempered and bright. Also make this your last beer of the night b/c my palate is shot.

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

Pours clear golden, lots of head. Slow to leave. Lots of cling. Smells like malt, a little hops and cooked bell peppers. Taste is different. More of a pepper beer than anything else. Not a bad thing. The malt is there, some hops, but the pepper takes over. I like it. The mouthfeel is medium, burn finish. I would have several of these at a shot. A good pepper beer is hard to find.

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Photo of BeerSnob1022
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap (twice).

Looks like a nice orange DIPA.
Smells like the regular Sculpin.
The taste of the first pour was fabulous. Everything I wanted from a chile beer. Pour two a month later was not as hot. A little disappointing in fact.
Piney, citrusy and sticky with a pepper kick.

Nice peppery flavor the first time I had this but not so much heat the second time. It seems like it's hard to get a consistent heat level to the chile beers. Looking forward to trying the bottled version.

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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 Sean66
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The habanero pepper is perfectly integrated with the taste of an excellent IPA. The majority of negative reviews cite the heat of the pepper, but what did you expect? IT'S CALLED HABANERO SCULPIN you morons! Bravo Ballast Point! Well done.

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Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at 16 tons thes other day.

The beer pours a golden peach color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The is impressive, with the expected dry citrus, light dank weed, and hint of pine and green chili. The flavor profile replictes the nose, but the habenero chili flavor really comes on strong, giving the beer some very noticeable heat in the finish. It's not bad, and adds an interesting element to the flavor profile, but sculpin is so good on its own, the chili flavor really doesn't enhance the drinking experience in this beer. Moutfeel is at most medium bodied, with the beer showcasing a long, hot (from the chili peppers) and bitter finish. As always, alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile.

A nice beer, no doubt, the chili flavor really doesn't add anything positive to this beer. Given a choice, I'll take my sculpin without the chili pepper heat.

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Photo of bschinelli
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Let me start off by admitting I'm not a chili beer fan. That said, this was an excellent beer.

A - poured a deep, copper gold in the glass, with a bright white head consisting of tiny bubbles. These last quite a while, leaving interesting lacing as you drink the beer.

S - Aroma like Sculpin. Citrus (tangerine and orange peel) on the nose. Pleasing, with some hop astringency.

T - Wow, lots of citrus and definitely heat from the habanero. Not uncomfortable, but definitely lingering and warming. Very complex like a regular sculpin.

O - Really the best chili beer I've had. Well worth trying. I'd recommend pairing with obviously, Mexican food; or sweet pork barbecue. Try this beer.

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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 elNopalero
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
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 +1.3%
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 +10.9%
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 -10.1%
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 +12.8%
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 +0.5%
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 +33.3%
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 +6.4%
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 +19.7%
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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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 2,563 ratings.
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