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Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale - Stone Brewing Co.

Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session AleBallast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

366 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 366
Reviews: 271
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.59%

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  4.20% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: mcallister on 08-07-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 366 | Reviews: 271 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of tempest


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, the world needs more beer like this - hoppy, full-flavored, and ridiculously drinkable. The aroma and flavor are bursting with hops. I'm smelling orangey floral mixtures and tasting the near-lavender and flower notes of Simcoe hops, before a big bitter citrus rind kicks in to leave a slightly peppery, biting bitterness. It's almost like herbal juicy with a mild toast and biscuit running under the hops.

I'm reminded of the few other beers out there like this I know of - Surly's Bitter Brewer and Full-Suspension Pale Ale. Brewers please take note, brew hoppy session beers and I'll be stocking up by the case. Come on, help me out.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 00:47:45 | More by tempest
Photo of oglmcdgl


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A late night bottle split with sourbatchkid.

A- a stiff pour yields a killer three fingers of bright white sudsy head that settles slowly leaving a bunch of sticky lace and a thick ring with a few wisps on top. Crystal clear golden yellow orange in color. Nice looking stuff here.

S- geeewwwu that good yaqui! A shit ton of hops blast your nose. Loads of what I can only guess is citra from the cornucopia of citrus fruits. Malts don't make much of an impression just a touch of sweetness.

T- crisp bright bitter hops with ruby red grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, some tropical fruits as well but to a lesser extent. Malts are super low profile but what there is does just enough to bring a touch of sweetness and balance to the hops. Long bitter finish.

M- light body and a smooth yet crisp carb that keeps things even lighter on the palate. Super dry finish.

D- my god this is a fucking hoppy brew here and its only 4.2 abv. This is one that ill drink anytime I see it. Very impressed to say the least. One of the better brews I've had in awhile.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 05:07:59 | More by oglmcdgl
Photo of Troegman


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a a little cloudy, light copper color with an average to light head. Brought by a waitress so it may have sat a bit.

The nose is full of pine and citrus. Doesn't smell much like a pale ale.

The hops dominate in a real good way all the way through. There is a balancing malt sweetness about halfway through, then back to the piney hops. A really flavorful 4.2% session ale is a great accomplishment.

Its got a medium to light body with average carbonation.

This is a beer the hop heads should love, and at 4.2% you can indulge a little more. I will look for this one.

Serving type: on-tap

11-18-2010 19:37:12 | More by Troegman
Photo of Wasatch


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to warriorsoul for this brew.

Poured into a Stone pint glass a semi-hazy golden color, very nice carbonation, very nice thick/creamy one-finger off-white head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is a very nice malty/hoppy blend, mostly hops thought, with some slight citrus thrown in. The taste is very nice, hoppy, slightly malty, with some citrus notes. Medium body, with a very nice dry/bitter finish. Very Drinkable, a very nice APA.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2010 19:58:10 | More by Wasatch
Photo of RonfromJersey

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy golden orange topped by three fingers of highly whipped snow white froth.

Big citrus aroma, heavy with oranges, then grapefruits and apricots.

Light trickle of malt runs down the center of the tongue. Juicy fruit explodes throughout the mouth, plenty of orange, with grapefruit support.

Light almost bubbly mouthfeel floats down the tongue.

Drinkable? Hell, its a session ale!

Light body and alcohol with a big hop smack. Definitely recommended.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2010 05:25:28 | More by RonfromJersey
Photo of rootbeerman


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Arrive as a 10oz belgian pour. With a finger and a half off white head the lingers well and laces in large chunks.

Smell is grapefruit hops along with malt sweetness. Almost like a halved grapefruit with sugar.

Taste is equally good as smell. Very lightly sugared grapefruit, malt and hop. Is also lightly coating and hops as well as some malt linger for a while. Carbonation is good enough to hold the head up and give a smooth mouthfeel. Also it is very drinkable with a smooth balance between hops and malt also low abv it is certianly a session ale.

Serving type: on-tap

12-23-2010 23:08:17 | More by rootbeerman
Photo of alleykatking


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a nice coppery color. One finger tan head shows medium retention. Streaky lacing on the sides of the glass. This looks actually really good.

S- Citrusy hops galore cover a light caramel malt base in the front. Piney hops come into the back making this beer such a hop monster it is hard to believe it's a such a light weight of a beer ABV wise.

T- Hops and more hops explode onto the scene with the first sip. Orange peel and grapefruit are the first to be seen flavor wise. This dies for a second leaving behind a crackery malt base. Pine and earthy hops kick up the backend with light hints of citrus. The alcohol gets caught up in the tail end with the hops only then making it noticable.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation was good for the style. Citrus hops and light pine are left on the palate with a nice hoppy resin that coats everything it touches. Aftertaste is piney hops with a stronger hint of alcohol. There were no off flavors to this one. Balanced? For a session ale I would say no because of the hop forwardness of the beer.

D- I would have no problem drinking a sixer of this at all. My palate would be shot down after a couple of these though so I wouldn't want to waste the others on a shot palate. Damn good though for a session ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2011 00:39:07 | More by alleykatking
Photo of UMNbeerhunter


4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Southern Tier flute on 6/23/11

Pours a nice orangish mango color with a finger of head that dissipates leaving no lacing on the glass. Beautiful color but I wish their was more head and lacing on this one.

Smell is a hop slap in the face. Tons of citrus grapefruit, and some sweet malt character comes out more as the brew warms. I think I smell some mango too. I like the aroma of this brew but I would liked to have some more complex hop smell, some more mango and maybe a tad bit more sweet malt.

Taste is much the same. I get a lot of the hop bitterness as well as the pine, and citrus. The malt characteristics are totally blown away by the hops. Maybe just a little more malt sweetness for balance but still a great taste.

Mouthfeel weight is moderate to medium. Nice resin that leaves a very light pine taste on the pallet that makes you want to take another sip.

Overall this is a great brew for the ABV. You don't see many beers with the hop and malt character that this has without an ABV above 8%. Good job guys I love the brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2011 03:47:52 | More by UMNbeerhunter
Photo of BradLikesBrew


4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear gold body beneath a white head.

Citrus and floral aromas burst from my glass.

The flavor is almost all hops, malt it barely detectable. Hoppy, but not very bitter. Grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon with floral notes on the finish. A true session ale, I would drink 4 or 5 if I could.

Did I just taste the future of beer? I always wondered what it would be like if a light beer was heavily hopped. Afterall, its the alcohol level that produces most of a beer's calories, not hops. Well, now I know and it is excellent.

Want to be a millionaire? Learn how to make a beer like this around 125 calories and under $9 a 6pk.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2010 22:13:56 | More by BradLikesBrew
Photo of prototypic


4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

San Diego County Session Ale is a light copper color. It's a tad bit hazy, and looks a little orange when held to light. A cream colored crown sits on top and stands over two fingers tall. It's slow to recede, and leaves a wealth of sticky lace in its wake. Good looking stuff.

The nose is quite good. It's very hoppy! It smells mostly piney, but there's some citrus grapefruit and orange that follows. There's a light caramel malt scent. It's a little sweet, and clearly behind the hops in terms of strength. It shouldn't be surprising that there's no alcohol in the nose. Yeah, it's not complicated, but it does smell nice. No hophead could deny that!

The flavor is likewise impressive. It kicks off with a very piney, bitter hop flavor! Citrus orange, grapefruit, and pineapple flavors follow and only add depth the hop flavor. I don't think I've ever encountered such a strong hop flavor in a beer this light. Excellent. There's some caramel malt underneath. It is a tad sweet, but mostly yields to the intense hops. I wouldn't say it's balanced. Alcohol is buried. It finishes bitter and dry.

San Diego County Session Ale has a light body. Carbonation feels light and restrained. It surprisingly has a smooth feel for lighter bodied beer. I'm impressed. Drinkability is incredibly high! This is incredibly tasty stuff for a 4.2% abv beer! It goes down so easy, and the abv really is attractive for drinking multiple bottles.

I really didn't know much about this beer before tonight, but I love the concept and the end result! If you're a hophead, you should love this beer and the idea behind it. It's a lower abv beer that's chock full of flavor! For anyone who hates not being able to session IPAs, this is intended for you! I love it! I actually hate that it's not available all the time in 6-packs. Find it while you can.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2010 03:35:33 | More by prototypic
Photo of ArrogantBastage


4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a glass

A: Pours a bright amber with a thick head. Head lingered long enough to prep for the review and then diminished to a thin ring. A few islands of foam remained on top for a little while but those disappeared about half way through the session. A thin ring remained thru out. No lacing which surprised me considering the amount of hops used in this beer.

S: Pungent hops, loads of citrus up front tinged with some pithy aromas, herbal and spicy hops also hide in the background.

T: Follows the aroma almost perfectly. Loads of citrusy hops giving the beer a strong citrus peel flavor. Some spicy notes make an appearance as the beer warms slightly. A little sweet malt in there too. Not overly bitter as the strong hop aroma would make some expect.

M: Light bodied with a fair amount of carbonation.

D: Definitely possible to have more than one of these in the course of an evening. Highly recommended to people that love hop forward beers.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2011 22:54:05 | More by ArrogantBastage
Photo of xhuskr


4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a great session beer...had all the hoppy characteristics I enjoy with an alcohol level that won't knock me on my arse.

Appereance: nice amber/red color that was not cloudy
Smell: smelled like a solid Pale Ale approaching an IPA
Taste: the real winner..smooth overall with a mild hop bite to it
Mouthfeel: warm enough to go back for a 2nd
Drinkablity: extremely good for this. Could sit a the bar hanging out with friends with a few of these each day.

If you're not had the chance to try it, do so soon. I've been looking for this kind of brew for a bit now.

on tap at Beachwood BBQ

Serving type: on-tap

08-27-2010 21:35:36 | More by xhuskr
Photo of JohnQVegas


4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into Sam Adams sensory glass. Thanks, Jeff! Another Perfect fit.

Pours a very hazy deep gold, heading just barely into pale copper territory, with a long-lasting, creamy, one-fingered off-white head on top. Nice streams of bubbles showing through towards the bottom of the glass.

Nose is fantastic - intensely floral notes of pine and citrus smack you upside the head, IPA-level for sure. No real malt showing through at all, which doesn't hurt this one even a little bit. Fantastic nose.

Taste is right up there with the nose as well - this one is literally all hops. Again, intensely hoppy without being overly bitter, the piney, grapefruity hop note is just fat and intent on raining all over your palate's parade. Bitterness is aggressive but moderate - there's an unrefined edge to it for sure - and certainly manageable throughout the experience. Still, this is aggressive on the level of many IPAs, and significantly more aggressive than many of them. Dry, long finish carrying moderate bitterness that doesn't seem to build too badly.

Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied, quite oily, almost grainy with hoppy goodness. Like every other aspect of the beer, intense, not unpleasant, but not exactly smooth and refined either. Carbonation is moderate but fairly big bubbled.

Drinkability is good, especially considering the aggressiveness behind the beer. Pure hop showcase, and done very very well.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2010 21:13:11 | More by JohnQVegas
Photo of tbrown4


4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bought a single bottle at Perfect Pour in Columbia, MD.

Bright splash of flavor across the tongue. Very nice, but short lived. Washes away quickly with little to no aftertaste. Little malt presence with a balance of slight pine hops.

Quick and easy to drink. For the price I paid I would not get again. At $8 a six pack I'd buy all year.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2010 22:00:15 | More by tbrown4
Photo of dmsohyea


4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2/14/11 3 day old growler from Stone

I've had this beer previously on-tap and in bottles. Fresh out of the tap this beer has a much stronger nose.

A: Pours yellow with a half finger fizzy head that dissipated quickly with very little lacing.

S: The scent is the best aspect of this beer, very floral and citrusy. Hops, hops and more hops in this beer.

T: Has sharp hop bitterness and taste with some grapefruit, orange, and pine. Should be a hop-head's favorite light beer.

M: The texture is very carbonated with a boarder-line watery body. This is the worst aspect of the beer, but comes with the territory of session style ales. If the carbonation wasn't so intense, the thin body may not have been as noticeable.

D: Very drinkable. Finished off the 2L growler in less than an hour between two people. I would have had another if it hadn't run out.

Excellent beer, it's between this one and 30th street pale for my favorite of the APA's.

Serving type: growler

02-15-2011 06:43:07 | More by dmsohyea
Photo of kitty66


4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeast all over, delicious malt. New style of beer - american belgian.

Great light-weight contender, this is the fresh beer that works especially well chilled on a warm summer day.

This would be popular in europe, in u.s. people may not understand it.

Grab it now !

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2011 02:06:47 | More by kitty66
Photo of Stinkypuss


4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

San Diego County Session Ale
Stone Brewing Co.

A collaboration brew, with fellow Cali brewers Ballast Point and home brewer Kelsey McNair.

Appearance: Bright copper color, chill haze. Soapy foam and leaves lace down the pint. A good looking brew.

Smell: Hoppy, very floral, spicy hops. Pretty aromatic nose, also a little soapy. There are hints of malt sweetness.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Light bodied yet full of flavor, oily hop resins, herb, citrus pulp, earthy bitterness and peppery bite. Very mellow pale malt backing, somewhat English. The light crisp biscuity malt is the perfect base to let the hops shine.

Overall: San Diego County Session Ale is a very drinkable, complexly hoppy, delicious and refreshing brew. A true session ale, with a manageable alcohol content and depth of flavor. Beckons for repeated pouring.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2012 05:04:37 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of Foxtrot


4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After reading countless threads on the issue of what is a "session" beer, and hearing Stone was brewing one, I just gotta try it.

Pours into IRS snifter a beautiful clear golden hue. Foam was very appealing with big amounts of foam, long lasting retention, and wonderful sticky lacing.

The aroma is just so good. This is a very hop centered nose, with nuances of grapefruit, tea like hops, light pine, and undertones of lemon. Pretty strong for a American Pale Ale, but looks good so far.

Taste was on par with the nose. Tasting this beer reminded me of Stone IPA. I don't think it would be off the mark to say that this Stone IPA's little brother. Ok, back to the beer. Begins with huge hops; grapefruit and pine being the most prominent and recognizable. Moves to a light grassy bitterness towards the finish with a very light malt backbone.

Mouthfeel was modest, more crisp and dry in the finish if anything else. Its a session brew, so I suppose it gonna be on the light body end of the spectrum.

Drinkability is this beers apex. Immense flavor, lighter ABV, and crisp finish give it a huge drinkability potential.

This was a difficult beer to judge. To me, all signs were point at this being an IPA as far as hops and flavor go. This is a incredibly good beer, and I hope it sees more than just a collaboration bottling.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2010 08:19:56 | More by Foxtrot
Photo of beagle75


4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Draft pour into a shaker pint at Selma's in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A: Clear, light amber with over one finger of diminishing white foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Intense juicy grapefruit unaccompanied by other elements.

T: Faint biscuit is just detectable before abundant aromatic hop flavors fill the palate. As dictated by the smell, grapefruit dominates here along with light pine. Bitterness is strong and somewhat astringent, with grapefruit character carrying through.

M: Thin viscosity, watery, with moderate-high carbonation. None of the resiny stickiness usually found in a west coast IPA is present here.

D: As this beer was designed to deliver big hop flavor in a sessionable package, it is a resounding success. Although its availability is fleeting, this beer would make a fine companion piece to Stone's own session beer: Levitation. Producers of other lower-abv hop bombs (Craftsman comes to mind) should take note that the bar has officially been raised by this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

09-13-2010 17:11:47 | More by beagle75
Photo of popery


4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very good pale ale with a fantastic hoppy aroma. The only potential downside is that it drinks its size and no bigger. I like smaller beers that seem to have compressed huge flavors into a low abv, and this beer succeeds admirably in that respect in the aroma. However, the taste is just a bit weak and fails to live up to the nose's promise. It's quite dry and light, which aren't really bad qualities but the beer is so clean that it's approaching wateriness. On the other hand, the beer looks great. Spot-on for the style - golden amber body beneath a creamy white head that sticks to the sides of the glass like Elmer's finest. The aroma is citric and peppery hops. It's delicate and full and reminds me of the aroma in a brewery's hop storage room. Anyway, the taste isn't really a negative. In fact, it fits the session idea quite well. It's mild with some hop bitterness and would make for a very pleasant beverage to accompany one through a night of consumption. The feel also keeps things nice and light. Good beer but this is one to drink on tap for a night. Selling it as singles for $3 apiece just seems kinda wrong.

Edit: by the end of my second bottle, I came around on the flavor. It's light, dry and wonderful. I'm indecisive.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2010 05:27:03 | More by popery
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: pours an orange color with a short 1/4" head that falls quickly.

Smell: loads of floral hops and some softer citrus tones rise from the glass.

Taste: caramel, orange, big floral bitterness, and some tart green grapes arrive late.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp from start to finish. Some dryness arrives late. Aftertaste is long as the bitterness lingers on the tongue.

Drinkability: this beer was very easy to quaff and the low alcohol levels make this a perfect beer to consume over a long session.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2010 22:38:44 | More by Gavage
Photo of ummswimmin

New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

The pour has a nice one and a half finger head. It releases a nice mix of grapefruit, pine, and floral head.

The scents in the head transfer into the flavor. It is a complex mix of hops. The body is perfect (not too heavy).

The beer is a very refreshing session ale. I could drink this all afternoon. It definitely shows that sessions can have good, complex flavors. A high ABV is not necessary for nice hoppiness.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2011 22:19:42 | More by ummswimmin
Photo of Beerandraiderfan


4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Scored a couple of these while in the area for BT. Super clarity, ebbs from yellow to very light orange. Good tiny bubble head.

Aroma was amazing, perfect. Lots of amarillo and maybe nelson?

Taste, pretty easy going, very full of floral hop mouthfeel. One of the best session hoppy beers around. Line this one up with some Daisy Cutter, and I'll take this one every time. Its that good. $3 a bottle is pretty expensive for a session beer, but since it is pretty much the best in its style, I'd say its worth it.

Downside, it is one dimensional to a degree, but how complex of a session ale do you need?

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2010 16:08:19 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of DeanMoriarty


4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle purchased at Olive Tree Market in Ocean Beach and poured into a Brouwerij 't Ij branded tulip glass.

A: Pours a super clean golden/copperish hue with a mellow head that lingers for a while leaving small amounts of lace in my glass.

S: Sweet and hoppy, very floral with some vanilla in there too. The smell is intense and wonderful, very unique and really lends to the overall quality of this beer.

T: Real similar to the smell but even more hop in the flavor, some citrus and tropical fruit with a sweet grainy flavor at the end that is nice. The hop is real present the whole time like an IPA but it doesn't completely dominate the flavor or lightness of it.

M: Medium bodied but definitely on the lighter side of medium with nice carbonation.

D: Real easy to drink - I could drink these all day and at 2.99 a bottle, you won't go broke doing so.

Serving type: bottle

09-04-2010 04:40:28 | More by DeanMoriarty
Photo of ocelot2500


4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with a frothy white head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of big citrus and grass notes.

Tastes of big hops with a solid pale malt backbone. Hops are grapefruit, orange, with some grass and herbal notes. Malt has a breadiness with very little sweetness. Would like to have a bit more of the pale malt.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2010 23:28:29 | More by ocelot2500
Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 366 ratings.