Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (1419) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 30, 2015
I’m no stranger to peppers and capsaicin. I’ve grown jalapenos, habaneros and Trinidad Scorpion peppers. The thing is, peppers and beer only work when the pepper is as subtle as possible; but in the case of Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin the pepper is quite prominent to say the least. This is definitely a beer for those that can handle the heat.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date and it cost $3.85 ($0.32 per ounce).

Appearance: Mostly clear shade of orange proper. Pours to a fairly large, ivory foamy head which retains and laces quite well for a pepper brew.

Smell: Nearly identical to classic Sculpin. Fairly potent citrusy aroma though the habanero is noticeable as well (and diminishes it a bit, unfortunately).

Taste: There’s really two separate palettes to this beer. The first half of every swig drinks like regular Sculpin: classic San Diego-style citrus and floral hops with a pretty strong bitterness. The second half is all habanero: intense heat at first followed by the familiar earthy pepper flavor (very soil-like). The hops are strong enough to provide a barrier or at least prepare the mouth for the pepper, but not strong enough (nor the pepper weak enough) to relegate it to a background spice. It’s a bit contrasting though it is interesting. I do get used to it by drinking more, though I don’t especially enjoy it any more.

Drinkability: Much like the taste, the actual drinkability of this beer could go either way. I have drank hotter, more intense beers than this, though a good pepper beer is derived from the taste – not just the Scoville units. The Sculpin character makes it drink like an IPA with a medium body and some crispness; though the habanero sets my throat on fire and it lingers for a little while. The 7% ABV is kind of a moot feature since I can only drink about half a bottle. Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin pretty much requires some kind of food to offset the heat (though nothing spicy I’d say).

RATING: 6/10

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