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Nelson Crowle's picture

Habanero Sculpin

February, 2016
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
39 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

This beer pours a beautiful, brilliant, deep gold, and a large head of tiny ivory-colored bubbles hangs around for a long time. The aroma brings out bread crusts, some toasty notes, as well as grapefruit juice and an eye-watering chili pepper heat (in a good way!). The flavor echoes the crusty bread and toasty malt aromas with grapefruit hops, but the star of the show is the apricot-like habanero flavor, which offers substantial heat but pulls away before becoming a burn-your-mouth-off pepper bomb. This is a very nicely-balanced IPA by itself, but it's the habanero flavor and heat that really gets your attention. With a medium body and moderate carbonation, there's a sneaky alcohol warmth in the back of the throat that is mostly masked by the pepper character. This crisp, refined and perfectly-balanced beer is one of the best pepper beers I've had the privilege to try – the pepper is hot but not overpowering, and it showcases the underlying stone fruit flavors of a habanero pepper. I'd gladly drink this world-class IPA with Huevos Rancheros.