Ballast Point Sculpin IPA Review: Perfect?

When you think of craft beer in San Diego the big name that may come to mind first is Stone, and rightfully so as they have nailed it with a number of their releases and they’re nationwide hold on the interests of craft beer enthusiasts. But, what about the other brewers making a name for themselves in San Diego? Among them there’s standouts like AleSmith, Pizza Port, Latitude 33, and one of my personal favorites, Ballast Point Brewing Company.

Starting in 1996 out of the back-of-the-shop tasting room of owner Jack White’s Home Brew Mart. Soon after they were perfecting and churning out what would become their signature award winning Indie Pale Ale, Sculpin IPA. A lot of beers can claim to be award winning on some level, but Sculpin has twice one the gold in the World Beer Cup (2010, 2014) and several golds in the Great Japan Beer Festival and European Beer Star Awards. Regarded worldwide as one of the finest IPAs out there today, what exactly makes it so? Let’s find out.


Everything On Tap Review: Ballast Point Brewing Co. Sculpin India Pale Ale.

Bottle: I had this from a 22oz bomber. The glass is brown and the label is off-white with a beautiful and colorful drawn image of a sculpin fish. The orange and yellow in the fish’s coloring tips you off to the orange and lemony flavors you’re about to immerse yourself in. Really nice label, although the bottling date is a bit tough to decipher. This one was bottled on March 14, 2014, and I was able to have it just under 2 months from bottling, so fairly fresh still.

Pour: I poured this into a small 8oz session acquired the night before from Eagle Rock Brewing Session Fest (review coming soon!). Slightly hazy golden color with foamy white head, which disappears at a moderate pace.

Aroma: The smell wafts from the glass to your nose immediately upon pouring. Fresh citrus fruits like lemon and orange come to mind, as well as a dose of mango and apricots. Some hoppy scents as well as you get a little closer.

Flavor: Layered. Not as dank as most IPAs. More on the fruity end. Lots of orange, tangerine, and pineapple. Fresh peaches. This is followed closely by some hops with a big bite. Fresh and citrusy hops as opposed to woody, grassy ones though. This was served very fresh, so it retained a lot of its citrus flavors. Tasty and refreshing. Bitter and slightly sweet. I started this one fairly cold, but as it warmed up a bit, a little more sweetness started to show in it. This is a highly addictive flavor. Very pleasing and refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Decent carbonation gives this a nice fizzy feeling in the mouth, but it doesn’t fill your palette much. Nice and light feeling and finishes fairly clean with only a slight bitterness left over. The alcohol in this is pretty nonexistent considering it’s a 7.0% ABV beer.

Structure: This one is about as good as it gets. Its fruit forward approach with a layer of hops just underneath is exactly how an American IPA should be put together. All at once it’s refreshing and bitter, with all the right components to make it extremely drinkable.

Food Pairing: Sculpin IPA would go nicely with grilled fish, and not just because there’s a fish on the label! The citrus flavors would complement a nice flaky white fish hot off of a smoky grill. This would also pair nicely with some spicy chicken wings. Most fresh citrus forward IPAs tend to lend themselves to being paired with spicy foods and this is no exception.

Overall Rating Out of 5 Beer Mugs: