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Beer – #626 – Ballast Point – Sculpin IPA *Redux*

I can’t help it that I’m easily led. This time astray by the Ballast Point – Sculpin IPA. Again.

Something that has a sting but tastes great

At 7% ABV a one litre bottle is about 6.8 standard drink units in NZ, and some 210 calories a serve size. Comes in at 70 IBU things. 

Brewed by Ballast Point Brewing Company in the style of an India Pale Ale (IPA) and of course near Sea World in San Diego, California USA.

The Sculpin IPA is a testament to our humble beginnings as Home Brew Mart. Founded in 1992, the Mart continues to be a catalyst for the San Diego brewing scene, setting the trend for handcrafted ales.

I know what's coming!

I know what’s coming!

Inspired by our customers, employees and brewers, the Sculpin IPA is bright with aromas of apricot, peach, mango and lemon. Its lighter body also brings out the crispness of the hops.

This delicious Ballast Point Ale took a Bronze Medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival in the Pro Am category.

The Sculpin fish has poisonous spikes on its fins that can give a strong sting. Ironically, the meat from a Sculpin is considered some of the most tasty. Something that has a sting but tastes great, sounds like a Ballast Point India Pale Ale.

So what could possibly go wrong with that?  I remember being a bit middling. I also know that this is regarded as being a bit of a winner. 

Aroma is sticky sweet pine, very rich sweet., the aroma is quite subtle and muted really, it’s not a bit boast of a thing.

SculpinPour is lovely golden orange with an excitable large fully white head os some substance. The aroma remains quite and reserved, a hint of grass and pine, but an over-riding sweetness. It’s very inviting.

It’s a burst of bitterness carried on a lovely sweet malt, delivering a lovely citrus fruity mouthfeel and a slightly to the dry finish, but not arid.

You can tell why this remains a firm favourite of IPA drinkers, it has pretty much all the boxes ticked, without any of the IPA madness that you can also get.

It’s not shy on the alcohol content either, with it being slightly stronger than some beers, it’s not a session beer, despite it’s session drinking taste and profile.

Then though, what is is you want from a top shelf IPA? Well I’d have expected, bitterness, warm sweetness in the middle, some pine or citrus thing like grapefruit perhaps and a dry finish. Somehow this manages to dial down the bitterness and the sweet backbone somewhat, making this a very good standard IPA, but not memorable.

Thing is there are lot of really good middle-of-the-road IPA beers available, and I know that sometimes you keep reaching for the next level, this one though seem content to be in the pack and the the middle. Which is fine, because this is a fine beer. A very fine beer. Where I remember to remember that it’s about this beer, not the beer I think I’m having or want, but the one I have.

I left it for a bit, and when I came back it had become ‘sticker’ in the tastes, a lot more resinous and piney, and sticky and lingering, all those things.  Does it make it better?

The pdubyah-o-meter rates this as 8 of its random things from the thing. It’s very good, but it’s then somehow it’s become a middle of the pack beer. At one point this was the bar though, and it needs to be enjoyed and appreciated because it’s very good. 

The double dip review

  • Am I enjoying it? Yes, it really is accessible, enjoyable and moorish, it’s just good.
  • Would I have another? I’ve had a few, they’re always the same, enjoyable etc etc
  • Would I share with a friend on a porch and set the world to rights? There is no reason that this wouldn’t be welcome to any beer drinker, I’m sure the bitterness wouldn’t or shouldn’t put off any beer drinker, but I’ve been known to be wrong.

Music for this.  ‘ Tito & Tarantula ‘  who are an American chicano rock/stoner rock band formed in Hollywood California in 1992. This is a track  ‘ After Dark Snake Dance ‘


India Pale Ale gets its name and unique style from British brewers who were making beer for export to India. This style has an intense hop flavor which was used to preserve the beer for the long voyage. India Pale Ale has a golden to copper color with a medium maltiness and body. The aroma is moderate to very strong. IPAs work especially well at cutting the heat of chili, vindaloo or Sichuan cuisine.


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