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Ballast Point Habañero Sculpin

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See that glass of beer up there in the picture? Looks harmless enough, doesn’t it? Just a glass of beer from some random local bar, right? Well, sometimes a photograph doesn’t tell the entire story. You see, I tried Ballast Point Habañero Sculpin IPA a couple of years ago, so I knew what I was getting when I ordered it. You see, Ballast Point’s well-regarded American IPA gets an infusion of habañero peppers for this beer, and even as someone who loves the habañero immensely, even I know this beer can be a bit daunting. (This is why I ordered a short pour and not a full pint.)

The first time I tried Habañero Sculpin, I bought two bottles, figuring I would drink them back to back while relaxing on the patio with my girlfriend. I got about halfway through the first bottle, and began to wonder if I had the guts to open the second. A few moments later, I wondered if I would have any lining left in my actual gut if I finished the first bottle in its entirety. I did, and I survived, but this isn’t like most pepper-infused beers – Ballast Point wasn’t screwing around with this one.

That said, it’s damn delicious beer. It’s also sneaky, because I have found that when I initially take in the aroma, it’s all IPA. The pepper is almost undetectable. But after a single drink, my eye started to itch and twitch. One. Drink. After four drinks, I already had a nice, even burn going on my palate. But the beer still has all the hop goodness you want, with a bit of a bitter-meets-metallic finish, and the citrusy notes of the hops blend nicely with those of the habaneros. But the heat will overtake you soon enough. Just buckle your seatbelt and hang on.