A few months ago, my buddy Lyell recommended this California IPA. It’s taken me this long to track one down, but I stumbled upon a cache of it at Petaluma Market tonight. Was Sculpin worth the wait, or will I get stung by this wriggly muddler?

Sculpin pours glowing amber with an ample head that flattens around the edges, leaving a snowy mound behind. Paints petroglyphs of deep-sea denizens imagined in your strangest dreaming upon the walls of the glass. Bright on the nose: grass and piney hops, with a strong suggestion of brown sugar. Very light on the tongue; sparkling carbonation. Sweet as promised: Fresh piney hops and a suggestion of citrus, but none of the top-of-palate hop bomb bitterness I typically associate with SoCal IPAs. Finishes clean, with a slight lingering bitterness in the throat. Each sip invites the next.

With a drinkability and subtleness that you’d expect from a gold medal winning IPA, Sculpin provides an enjoyable and refreshing experience, but ultimately lacks bite. That said, the easy drinkability of Sculpin conceals a potent 7% ABV, so imbibers would be forewarned to steer clear of the spines.

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I’m a little bit slow in posting that pictures from last weekend’s Small Dog Social at Our Best Friends are now live at Photobucket and Facebook. Click on through and check ’em out, if you’re so inclined.

Maddie meets George.