Ballast Point Brewing's Sculpin IPA
Host city: San Diego
AleSmith, Stone, Pizza Port, Lost Abbey, Green Flash, Societe, Modern Times ... those are just some of the dozens of great breweries in San Diego whose beers we aren't going to get to here.
Listen, it's pretty much impossible to screw up getting a beer in this town. It's a craft beer hub, even waitstaff are incredibly beer savvy and there's a whole lot on tap to choose from. But if you had to have one to start out with -- or could only have one for your entire stay -- this is the one you need to go with.
In a town filled with excellent IPA, this is arguably the best of the bunch -- if not the best in the entire country. Stone's "Enjoy By" series and Alpine's Nelson make strong arguments to the contrary -- and we encourage you to sort this out for yourself by trying all of them -- but Sculpin's crisp, fruity, powerful IPA has been so consistently excellent for so long that it gets our vote in a walk.
With 70 IBUs that deliver as much of a sting as the beer's namesake fish and more bitterness than some 100 IBU offerings out there, this is an absolute beast. But with a middling 7% ABV and a finish that's sweet, citrusy and complex -- and doesn't feel as if someone took a hop-flavored scouring pad to your tongue -- Sculpin is one of the most enjoyable high-octane IPAs available.
It drinks like a beer that the geeks would wait in line overnight for, but is available year-round and just about ubiquitous in San Diego. Ballast Point makes draft-only variations of Sculpin, but the original recipe is San Diego Beer 101.