29 December 2014


A chance encounter with an American visitor to Dublin (cheers Jason!) left me with this bottle of Sculpin IPA from San Diego's Ballast Point. It's a beer I knew only by reputation and it's always fun to get hold of those.

It's surprisingly pale for an American IPA: I tend to expect them to be more on the orange-amber side, but this is a bright blonde, only tinted slightly with red. The carbonation is high, piling up a stiff meringue of a head on the top. A promise of acidic lemon rind is how the aroma begins, though there's a contrasting hint of sticky toffee behind it. Its texture is very heavy, the gas having to force its way out through the viscous body. At just 7% ABV it could easily pass for higher.

Bitterness is the centrepiece of the taste: quite a metallic brassy tang enhanced by a pure citrus sharpness. The toffee comes later and lasts longer. I guess it's supposed to be there for balance, but putting this sort of weighty malt sugar next to the hop harshness does not make for balance. It's more like the two flavours are competing with each other.

It's certainly an invigorating beer, a real wake-up call to the palate, but it's by turns too bitter and too sickly for it to be one I'd go running back to.


  1. This is actually a favorite IPA of mine, but every time I've had it, it seems to have tasted a little different. It's definitely best at the brewery's taproom! They also produce a "grapefruit" version of this beer that I want to try someday.

    For some reason this stuff is prohibitively expensive in the States, at over $15 for a 6-pack. Other Ballast Point beers run around $7 or $8.

    1. It certainly seems to have a cult following. I guess the pricetag comes with that.