Four IPAs for the weekend – with bit of a sting

Beerista: Ballast Point is the 13th-largest brewing company in the US – and its beers have just landed here

A sculpin is a big-eyed, grouchy-looking fish that likes to hang out in the murky sediment at the bottom of rivers and sea beds. You’ll also find this distinctive creature, with its webbed pectoral fins and sharp rays, on the can of a famed San Diego beer.

Made by Ballast Point, Sculpin IPA is one of the highest-rated beers in the world. Founded in 1996, Ballast Point was one of the early craft breweries in the US that started small and grew big, and quickly. It all began with a bit of homebrewing, which grew into the Home Brew Mart set up by Jack White and Pete A'Hearn. Then came the brewery, lots of award-winning beers and eventually acquisition by the massive Constellation Brands in 2015 for $1 billion. By 2016, four of the founders had left.

The story of Ballast Point raises long-running questions about what defines craft and whether supporting local or independent breweries matters to consumers. Is shipping beer here from a US multinational missing the point about craft beer – or does it matter who owns a brewery?

It’s hard to argue with the quality of Ballast Point’s beers, however – four of which are now on Irish shelves, all IPAs and all with a nautical theme. Mango Even Keel Session IPA has a big hit of sweet and juicy mango aroma and taste, balanced with pleasant bitterness and a solid body at 3.8 per cent. Fathom IPA is a new 6 per cent, west coast IPA that’s crisp and clean, with a touch of maltiness. It’s lighter but not dissimilar to their Sculpin IPA which is my favourite of the lot – and also comes in a lovely grapefruit variation.


Sculpin IPA is a very tasty and full-flavoured beer with peach, apricot and citrus fruitiness. It finishes with a solid, lip-smacking bitterness – or a bit of a sting, as they say on the can, “just like a sculpin”.