Habanero Sculpin | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
520 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: 520 | Ratings: 2,552
Photo of Timothy_Scott_Goeft
3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hell of a flavour. First you taste the heat from the habanero peppers and their good flavouring. Next you have the bitterness of the IPA. Then the habanero adds a dry warming finish.

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Photo of BeernOnThe4thOfJuly
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Very much golden. Pine and Mango on the nose with a subtle pepperiness. Flavor is softly piney with an excellent malt balance. The peppers stay hidden until the end. They sneak in and really warm up the mouth. It's a legitimate and lingering heat. Hot enough I'm wanting food with it to finish the second half.

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Photo of csheridan
4.11/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I love hot & spicy, so really looked forward to this one since I love the traditional Sculpin, Grapefruit, & west coast IPAs in general. Definitely has a kick too it, but the pepper flavor doesn't overpower the nice hop balance, just gives it a nice difference. Appearance was a nice orange (hinting at red, suggesting the peppers). Friends thought it was really hot (but they're not pepper fanatics); if you like hot 'n' spicy, this certainly isn't overpowering, but a nice alternative to the usual!

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Photo of westlaunboy
4.49/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Great IPA (Sculpin) turned into a wonderful sipper with the Habanero addition. By far the best "hot" pepper beer I've ever had - I love spicy stuff, but most of these beers seem to have a gross pepper flavor that overpowers everything else. Not so here. The pepper turns each sip into a minute-long experience, as the hops and then the pepper hit you in waves, lingering until you're ready for another.

I wouldn't recommend it to people who don't like a decent amount of heat, but if you do definitely give this a try. Love sipping it on the porch on a warm evening.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle in a stemmed tulip glass.

Translucent orange color with a touch of red pepper dye, pepper -white colored head, about 1f and modest looking, decent lacing.

Smell of habanero pepper sauce, salted and buttered.

Hot and fresh habanero peppers. Pickled habaneros. There are fresh citrus hops underneath. It's a stretch to pick up the malt, except in just a bit of underlying sweetness.

Heat, that's the feel. Good body, hop tang, touch of sweetness on the end.

"Heat may vary" reads the label. Well, mine varies toward the upper end of the Scoville scale, it was good and hot. Pretty tasty, too.


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Photo of stevoj
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Habanero at the forefront, gently in aroma, moreso in taste, and plenty of burn at finish. Orange golden body with fluffy head. Peppers pretty much obliterate any sign of the Sculpin base, but add some character all their own.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Almost clear burnt orange body under a thick foamy cream colored head that doesn't recede much. Random patches of foamy lacing.

Aroma: Dried habanero peppers, spicy dry hops, subtle fruit.

Taste: A perfect blend of tropical fruit and spicy hops are coated in spicy, hot habanero. A woody, dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and dry, leaves the throat and tongue coated in peppery heat.

Overall: I do love pepper beers, and I found this one to be delicious, and the habanero worked well with the hop character. This went down way too easy, and I absolutely loved the peppery heat it left on the palate.

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Photo of FluffyRumia
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Holy moly does this pack some heat for a beer!
I was pleasantly surprised to find similar hop flavors as the regular sculpin but with a surprisingly hot finish- cant see myself drinking more than one at once but its excellent at what it is-- a hot pepper IPA

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's been taunting me on shelves for months. Might as well see for myself. 12 ounce bottle, brewed mid-February, poured into Belgian ale glass.

L: Standard Sculpin look: 3F+ head with good retention, some lacing and ring. Clear amber color. Carbonation bubbles.

S: Starts with Sculpin citrus, pine, and light biscuit malt, but habanero overpowers really quickly and then that's all you smell. Good if you're congested, though.

T: Habanero. Then more habanero. Continued habanero with habanero finish.

F: Light-medium body, I think. Medium carbonation, I think. Long habenero finish that lingers on tongue even though drying and decent ABV should help that out. I feel almost like Homer Simpson when he eats the Guatemalan Insanity Pepper.

In all seriousness, though, there's just too much habanero and the balance is way out of whack. Nothing stands up to it.

O: Fair to point out I voluntarily purchased and tried this beer. I love Ballast Point. I also love spicy food as long as you can still taste the base food. Maybe there isn't a way to do this without killing the beer dead, but maybe it would work better in something like a mango-habanero mix?

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Photo of maximum12
1.65/5  rDev -56%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Ran to grab a beer I didn’t have to review to close out our draft & accidentally grabbed this monster. One sip told me “oops”. 12 oz. bottle, evidently.

The pour is bright orange whipped into a froth that would do a Carlsbad beach proud. The nose? A touch of evil laced with heat. Only by consuming liter after liter of air do I detect a touch of the citrus base. I think.

Sculpin – Habanero is one of those beers that begs for a deft touch, a perfect drag bunt between the pitcher & first baseman, a wacky-rigged plastic dropped right on the weedline. Alas, it is not so. Sip two start yelling “Fire fire fire fucking fire get out!” & then pulls the fire alarm, a few seconds too late. Heat fills up the mouth & encompasses the palate, driving out anything resembling an IPA. I have to take my fleece off now, probably my pants later if I power through this. Should have split this…but with whom? My wife nor my dog would touch this.

Nothing subtle here – a world-class beer drowned in heat. Not quite in the same class as Stone’s Crime (Against Humanity) but there’s nothing redeeming about this. Not good.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle with illegible date code.

Pours hazy copper with a partial skim coat and minor lacing. Aromatics are subdued with barely a hint of hops or heat. Mild fruit at best. Medium bodied and crisp. A hint of citrus on the palate before the attack of heat from the habaneros. The heat builds on the tongue and throat until the point of it stinging. Finishes with continuing heat.

I like the heat and peppers but the hops are either totally faded at this point or were never there to stand up to the peppers.

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Photo of THSmusicman
4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a Teku glass.

Look: Looks like any other Sculpin variant; a nice amber color with a finger of head that laces the glass nicely.

Smell: Smells like pepper jam and citrusy, grapefruity hops.

Taste: Tastes like a jellied habanero with a perfect amount of heat and a very nice tropical hop profile and a light malt backbone to balance the heat.

Feel: Feels like one would expect a 7% IPA to feel. Ever so slightly resinous but very smooth and drinkable.

Overall: I love this beer. I'm a fan of heat and I love Sculpin so the mix of the two is a fantastic combo. I'm impressed by how well Ballast Point executed this variant and I think that it's their best one.

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Photo of CHickman
3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Basically it's the regular Sculpin with the habanero's in the mix which brings the spicy pepper flavors and plenty of heat. It made my tongue tingle and belly warm, with each sip bringing the burn. A bit too much for me, but a decent variation of the base beer.

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Photo of 98green
4.6/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks like sculpin. Smells like sculpin. Tastes likes sculpin. But you came for the heat. Yeah it burns. It isn't insane or anything, but the tingle is real. Even got a few beads of sweat. I think there is even some nice "green" taste from the peppers. This is a winner, but I think one in an evening is plenty

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

This habanero IPA is a slightly hazy, sparkling deep gold beer with a medium fluffy white head; lacing is only fair, but cryptic, consisting of abstract structures that show some very unusual variations in coarseness. The aroma is a medium-intensity blend of pineapple, citrus and sweetish florals, with slight alcohol overtones; no habanero notes are detected. Up front, bitter pineapple is dominant, and a notable chile heat is present; by mid-palate the heat reigns supreme, although the pineapple notes are still discernable. Again, habanero flavor notes (fruity and vegetal) are absent. The finish shows a moderate bittersweet nutty character, followed by a nice chile burn at the back of the throat. The linger is a whole-mouth chile burn of significant intensity, with a less apparent style-moderate piney bitterness behind it, and lasts quite awhile. Mouthfeel is biggish for the light body, and the texture is slightly creamy and medium-peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. The label notes that "heat may vary"; this particular beer has a capsaicin burn intensity that I would equate with a thick stripe of El Yucateco green on an otherwise mild enchilada: satisfyingly assertive but not overbearing. Given that I eat stupidly spicy food, that probably means that this beer would be unpleasantly spicy to a normal American palate. (12 oz bottle, illegible code date)

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

light amber, notes of citrus, pine and fruit - pepper is forward in the nose the aroma of the habanero is unmistakeable

this brew is surprisingly good, the heat is present but not overpowering, not a brew that is to be gulped or chugged (that might prove to be painful)

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Photo of auroracrisis
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz into a snifter.

Deep orange with a little head that disspiates into foam. Clear body

Smell is pine, citrus, and peppers. Lots of hot peppers.

On the tongue there is citrus rind with a huge kick of heat that lingers for a long time.

Mouth feel is thin medium with a touch of carbonation, heat on the finish that lingers.

A great IPA with a huge dose of awesome pepper flavors and a hot finish.

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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 JLaw55
1/5  rDev -73.3%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Horrendous. Took a great beer and made it undrinkable. I like spicy, but not this. Tried twice and couldn't stomach it. It was in your face, unadulterated heat. Nothing but heat with a small touch of hops on the back end, once your face finishes melting that is.

Would drink again: No
Would purchase again: No

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Photo of JMD
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Bright amber with orange tones, foamy white head that fades slowly.

S: Big hop aroma, citrus and tropical fruits. Big hints of mandarin orange and peach, with some light earthy pine.

T: Wow, big IPA flavor, but holy shit, the habaneros bring the heat! Big time. Big juicy IPA flavors that we love about Sculpin with liquid fire added. After a few sips you can feel the heat on your lips and tongue.

F: Medium bodied, typical ipa

O: Well crafted and interesting. I couldn't drink more than one of these for sure, but this is still an outstanding beer for what it is. Its exactly what you would expect. Great Sculpin flavor with habanero fire added. I love hot spicy food, so I found this one enjoyable.

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

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a tulip glass

This beer pours a brilliant amber color with golden highlights. Suspended yeast is visible. It is topped with several inches of beige head.

I get the typical citrus and tropical fruit that I get from regular sculpin. I also get the aroma of fresh peppers.

The taste starts out like a normal sculpin with citrus and tropical fruit and a little pine. It does not take long for the habanero to come through in a complimentary way. The heat is not overwhelming, but it does build with each drink.

Medium mouthfeel

I like this beer as a change of pace to the standard IPA. I don't want to drink it all the time or even drink a whole six pack. I like it every now and then to challenge my palate.

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Photo of musicsherlock
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sculpin tasting #4

No bottling date noticed

Prototypical translucent orange with a soapy off-white head, thinner than the base beer

Sweet and peppery nose, again made my mouth water in anticipation. A bit more malt notes in this one. Tingled my nose hairs

Hot! no trace of a beer whatsoever. I once had a chile pepper bathing in a Corona or something for days. Tasted like this. Or felt rather. Makes me want to mix it with a stout to balance. Hops are no match for this thing.

Creamy, well carbonated

Overall another unnecessary addition to the Sculpin line. Novelty. Possibly will buy a single to use as mixer.

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Photo of JaimeLondon
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh what to say?
This beer has the most incredible feel ever. I'm not saying it's the best, it's probably not for 99,9 % of everybody that have ever tasted it. But it's definitely incredible. It ranges from bitter to alcoholic and from spicy to hot (oh, what a heat in the chest!). Yeah, it's amazing, check it out!
And all the rest makes it even better. Hoppiness and fruitness are such that you don't doubt this is an incredible IPA. Pepper has its place as well in the mouth and nose. Citrus is, of course, evident. If you like that peppery feeling, you should taste this one for sure!

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Photo of Gipsy_Danger
2.64/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

S: Smells like habanero/cheapy Walmart hot sauce. Not much else.

T: Tastes like some a*hole dumped Frank's Red Hot into what could have been a solid IPA. Habanero
overwhelms everything I like about regular Sculpin'. Now I have 5 more of these beers because some a*hole from bumfukc PA convinced me to buy this at $16 for a six pack.

F: Very light, smooth.

Overall: Mediocre flavor infusion that ruins the character of a standout IPA. Habanero is bush league anyways. Sriracha lyfe.

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

-Spiegelau ipa glass.

A: Lightly tarnished orange, generally good clarity, with a good show of effervesce. Light barley colored head of 0.5 inches is relatively lasting with a sponge-cake like texture. Decent display of soapy lacing.

S: Light traces of the habanero, but more hoppy forward and focal. Toasted chili-grapefruit, with an intial moderate awareness, but a short duration to enjoy it.

T: Good dose of habanero peppers for flavor, its there, but blended nicely with the hoppy quality of the style, not to overwhelm or distract. Grapefruit and pine hops with a nice lingering heat from the habanero chili peppers. Toasted malt and bready chili and citrus hints.

M: Decent crispness, habanero bite and warmth on the tongue and inner cheeks.

O: A very good balance of the hoppiness and emphasis on the habanero chili peppers that blend together nicely. Dry finish, good drink-ability for a chili-hop beer that provides a nice heat kick, while maintaining a good rate of drink-ability.

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Habanero Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 2,552 ratings.
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