Beer of the Week: Ballast Point IPA goes (grape)fruity

What it is: Sculpin India Pale Ale, made by San Diego brewery Ballast Point, is widely considered one of the finest IPAs on the market; BeerGraphs ranks it the 32nd highest-rated beer in the world and Beer Advocate puts it at a slightly more reasonable 137 (still quite impressive). in a recent blind taste-test, Paste Magazine ranked it 20th out of 116 American-style IPAs.

So it’s little wonder that Grapefruit Sculpin, which is getting wide distribution for the first time, has become the talk of the beer world. It’s Sculpin … with grapefruit! The brewery won’t say exactly how the grapefruit flavor is added — it’s “a proprietary process that uses grapefruits purchased from Florida” — but does say it is added as a final step in making the beer. The addition of fruit to an already-loved beer makes for a deeply satisfying equation for IPA fans. (Paste ranked it third)

In the bottle: Grapefruit, grapefruit, grapefruit and grapefruit. Grapefruit Sculpin smells so much like — get ready — grapefruit, that if you had no information about what was in the glass, you might guess it was grapefruit soda. But just like the standard Sculpin, the grapefruit version is 7 percent alcohol, which gives it plenty of beery heft. It’s still plenty bitter, as an IPA should be, thanks to the grapefruit (which has more of a rind quality on the palate than juicy) and the hops. Yet Grapefruit Sculpin stays bright and tangy, and amounts to one of the most refreshing and approachable 7 percent alcohol beers I’ve ever sipped. All that said: If you don’t like IPAs, this is not the beer that will convince you otherwise. This beer takes one of an IPA’s greatest attributes — the intersection of bitterness and citrus — and amplifies it generously.

Drink it with: Shrimp tacos with a mango salsa.

Find it: Available in six packs of 12-ounce bottles at better beer stores.

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