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

Not Rated.
Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session AleBallast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

270 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 270
Hads: 375
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.3%
Wants: 14
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
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:
Beer added by: mcallister on 08-07-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 270 | Hads: 375
Photo of mrfrancis
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy gold with a compact white head.

S: Aromas of biscuits, lemon, grapefruit, and pine are present on the nose. This ale smells nice, but in a way that is entirely expected. Obviously, this ale is not going to surprise someone who is thoroughly familiar with this style.

T: Notes of biscuits, pine, spruce, lemon, grapefruit, lime, kumquat, and bitter orange wash across the palate. The finish is bitter, yet rather abrupt, with a deft balance of biscuit and tart citrus flavors.

M: As expected, this ale is dry and light-bodied. Carbonation is crisp, yet still remains somewhat expressive. This ale is as drinkable as American ales come.

O: In the end, this is a very nice session ale that displays an expert balance between dry, bready malt and resinous, fruity American hops. If you are expecting to be blown out of the water (and that is perfectly understandable given the level of talent of each of these collaborators), then you may be slightly disappointed. The brewers set out to create a true session ale with a ton of West Coast hop flavor, and they have done just that and nothing more. (1,114 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lightly hazy yellow to orange-ish color with an off white head. In the aroma, gingerbread like malt and an sweet orange citrus hop. In the taste, gingerbread like malt and a small orange citrus sweetness. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry gingerbread malt and just a note of orange citrus. English like maltiness with west coast hops, a weird mix for sure. (379 characters)

Photo of TTAmod
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Pours chill haze spiked bright orange with a really rocky eggshell white head.

S: Smells is a nice spectrum of hop flavors. I pick up a bit of grapefruit and lemon, but also an underlying pine.

T: Very nice and flavorful, especially considering the crazy low ABV. Immediately starts of with a moderately bitter orange and lemon zest, then it transitions to a slightly less bitter grapefruit taste. It ends with a powerful bitter grapefruit rind and pine bitterness. The malt support is very, very minimal...probably TOO minimal considering the onslaught of hops.

M: Mouthfeel is really nice. Creamy, medium body. Carbonation bites about mid-drink, right before the final tinge of bitter hop taste.

O: Like I said earlier, this beer is extremely flavorful. I think that the malt base should be more substantial, but that would probably add on to that ABV.

Pretty good. I'd love if they had something like this in a reasonably priced 6-pack for those long session beer days, but considering this one bottle was $4, I doubt that will ever happen. (1,094 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.22/5  rDev +6%
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. (826 characters)

Photo of TheCorkStopsHere
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A collaboration brew from Stone Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing, and Kelsey McNair, a home brewer. This is a beer that never really made it to my area of Connecticut, but we had a few bottles from a store in Massachusetts. This was brewed and released about a year ago. I’m curious to see how they’ve held up.

The twelve ounce bottle releases a little bit of a “pop” as I break the seal. The brew pours out a great golden-straw color, with a bit of haze. Plenty of carbonation makes for a bright white foam, that lasts quite a long time. The lacing is mild, but sticks forever.

Just as I pour the Session Ale, I can already smell the hops. Of course I’m not surprised, considering Stone is involved. The nose reveals an interesting combination of light citrusy hops, as well as more in-your-face bitter hops. I let the beer warm a little bit and swirl is quite strongly, because I’m trying to find something else in the nose to describe. After several minutes, the only thing I can smell is still the hops!

When I take a sip, the hop complexity changes a little. The nose was dominated by the citrusy hops, but the palate is dominated but the rough and aggressive bitter hops. This beer is over a year old, and it feels like it was bottled yesterday. The bitterness of the hops is mouth-filling, and almost mouth-numbing. I take a few sips, swirl it in my mouth, and I’m going to walk away for a few minutes to see if it changes at all…

As it warms up, and I come back for a few more sips, the San Diego Session Ale has definitely opening a little. The hops is not quite as mouth-numbing. Or maybe my mouth is numb, and I can’t tell that it is still super hoppy. I think this may be one of the most hop-intense beers I have ever tasted. That is to say, I’ve tasted really hoppy, bitter beers before, but they usually have more of a subtle malty backbone. This San Diego Session Ale is hops, hops, and more hops.

I can understand that the lower-than-average alcohol content, 4.2%, makes this a bit of a session ale. However, as a malt-man, I could not possibly drink more than one of these. As a matter of fact, I only poured myself half a bottle, and I’m seriously considering not finishing it. I’m not saying it’s a bad beer at all, but it is nearly 100% the exact opposite of my preferred style. (2,328 characters)

Photo of Rutager
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a nice clear amber gold with a finger of white head.

Smell. Grapefruits and nice toasty grains and caramel.

Taste. Grapefruits and orange, caramel, light grains. A little lingering grapefruit rind bitterness.

Mouthfeel. Light body. A little thin and watery. Below medium carbonation.

Overall. Decent lighter abv beer with good flavour. I would rather dring less amounts of slightly bigger beers. (417 characters)

Photo of OStrungT
4.74/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a cloudy, golden yellow color, with a thick, very fluffy white head. the head has a slight yellow tint to it. It fades slowly, leaving a massive lace.

This beer has a grassy hop aroma. It smells more hoppy than I expected. I also get some citrus zest. Not much else.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Hoppy, with a very subtle toasted malty backbone.

This beer is crisp and refreshing. It leaves a grassy hop aftertaste.

This beer would make a good session beer. It is low in alcohol, and the flavor is mild enough. I suppose that is why they call it a session ale.

Overall: This beer is pretty good. For what it is, it has loads of flavor. I like it, and would drink it again. I like seeing Stone brew a beer that is more sessionable. Levitation is great, but a few more options would be good too. (823 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into De Molen stemware in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Serving temperature was cold but not overly so; it was pulled from the fridge and left to sit a bit.

A: Pours a two finger head of slight cream, pretty good thickness, and good retention - though the ABV is low. Colour is a hazy dark copper.

Sm: Toasted malt, overdone bittering hops, and some buttery biscuity yeast. Did stone dump too many hops in for no reason as is their MO? The aroma is strong.

T: Toasted malt and bittering hops. Simple. A bit imbalanced. There's just not a whole lot going on here. Session doesn't mean boring. Uninspired and boring.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but too thick for 4.2%. Doesn't really complement the flavours of the body.

Dr: Drinkable, but not sessionable (ironically) on account of its limited quality. I wouldn't have it again. It's so damned boring. (937 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle into a Heady Topper pint glass. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1 finger coarse white head with low retention. Beer is a cloudy orange-peach. Lacing is spotty at the top and patchy near the beer. Suffers for clarity, head retention, and lace.

Nose is aromatic. Big citrus, cane sugar, and hop notes. Simple but very enticing. Some nice creaminess in there too.

Opens spicy with a citrus hop bitterness. Some cane sugar in the background supporting a strong, hop forward bite that lasts until the end. Finishes bitter with a filmy, hop aftertaste. Enjoyable.

Light bodied with moderate carbonation. Lively and aggresive in the mouth and prickly and bubbly going down. Finish is messy with a lingering aftertaste. On point.

A bit more aggressive than the average pale ale and very well flavored for a session beer. Definitely quaffable. (855 characters)

Photo of JayS2629
3.49/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I understand this is a session ale and that explains the light, crisp, watery body. That is ok, but the flavors are out of balance. I know what they were aiming for, and I imagine they hit it, but it was too intense for me.

It poured a clear light amber with a medium head that faded fast and left ok lace.

The smell was of oranges, grapefruit, pine, tangerine and peach with a biscuit and crusty bread underneath.

The taste followed with loads of pine and grapefruit dominating over a strong toast back. Its good, but off balance with the sweet citrus being cloying.

Overall, drinkable but unbalance. Its just ok. (620 characters)

Photo of palma
2.23/5  rDev -44%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

slightly hazy yellow body. Small fizzy white head leaves a lasting lace.

Smell is grass, lemon, musty.

Taste is lemon, hay, big time citrus rind. Significant soapy flavor that is not good. Tastes like a sorachi ace attempt gone bad. No depth of malt either. This is a one dimensional, poorly hopped beer. Try it only if you like non-complex, overly hopped, palmolive flavored beers. (384 characters)

Photo of nrbw23
2.39/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A- Pours a clear, light golden amber with a thin white head. Head turns into a thin layer of bubbles and leaves some spotty lacing.

S- Very Earthy, herbal and grainy. So far I'm not really digging this one, and not really picking up much either.

T- A bit of bitterness, and an odd metallic taste. Pretty dry overall. Hops are kind of all over the place. Not quite sure what to think.

M- Lighter side of medium in both body and carbonation.

O- Quite the disappointment on this one. (488 characters)

Photo of ehammond1
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2010)

Holiday Wine Cellar
Escondido, CA

Slightly hazy golden orange and amber. Thick off-white head that sticks around for a bit and then leaves gobs of sticky lacing down the glass.

Pungently hoppy aroma--lots of citrus and floral notes along with some sweet baking bread and biscuits. Well balanced, though still pungently hoppy. Pretty impressive, especially since this bottle has actually been sitting around for quite some time now.

Incredibly well balanced and massively drinkable. Lots of citrus and piney hops balanced well with a biscuity, bready malt backbone. This reminds me of Stone's Pale, with it's very biscuity malt presence, though this Session Pale seems more pungently hoppy. It's delicious stuff.

Medium mouthfeel.

A fantastic session pale--this and Stone's own Levitation seem quite similar to me. This one leans a little further toward the biscuity side of things while Levitation is a touch more sweet and caramelly. (956 characters)

Photo of brew3crew
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-nice pale yellow body with a great white head that retains for awhile.

S-Little bit of maltiness on top of faded hops...

T-Nice hop profile with a smooth finish and a nice hope after taste.

M-medium body and so smooth

O-Decent session beer. I could go for another (269 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.72/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This "session ale" is lighter than most lagers, but it somehow looks heavier. Its dense orange colour has a lot of shininess, but curiously no clarity; it's too thick to see through to the other side. Its head and bubbles are both loose but manage to tack on some lace.

The beer certainly doesn't smell any weaker than any Stone or other such bold southern Californian offerings. There's lots of hops, of course, and all the stinkiness that comes with them. There's a good deal of biscuity malty sweetness too, mind you, but the customary pine tips and flower petals are in full force as usual. Obviously no hops were spared.

San Diego County Session Ale tastes exactly as you'd imagine a lighter version of a typical Stone beer to taste: there's a firm and ample biscuity malting, lots of pine and floral flavours from a liberal hopping and a good deal of lemon-y acidity to severe the two. Good on them for only lightening the alcohol, and not selling the hop or flavour character short.

The brewers went with plenty of aroma hops but not too many kettle hops. It has bitterness, but it's mellow and fruity, like a lightly-steeped orange blossom tea. No surprise they got that part right, but they should have paid more attention to carbonation; less bubbles - as in a cask - would have been better (cue CAMRA's entrance music). This is too prickly.

I was curious to know how these two breweries - especially Stone who's notorious for their machismo, staunchly aggressive brands - would fair with a lighter recipe and, truth be told, they did quite well. That said, a zebra can't change his stripes - this doesn't compete with England's session ales any better than England's IPAs can compete with Californian ones...

Don't get me wrong - a fixation on the “extreme” has left a generation of U.S. brewers to neglect the appeal of mild, low gravity beers and I couldn't be happier Stone highlighted that fact with the release of this well crafted ale. But for whatever it's worth, I think they're better off sticking with what they're good at. After all, just as anywhere is walking distance if you have the time, any beer can be sessionable if you have the tolerance! (2,183 characters)

Photo of xerotime
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy burnt orange color with a small white head that leaves a nice lace around the glass. From the second I popped the cap off I could smell this beer is just loaded with hops. Citrus and pine overload here! The bready malt blends perfectly with the huge amount of hops in this beer. Medium bodied and super dinkable given the only 4.2%. I wish they would turn this into a regular offering. (390 characters)

Photo of Cavery
3.32/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz shared with Klym at the start of a Friday session. Poured into small tulips.

A: A cloudy lemony yellow pale malt body with some decent small bubble foam. Modest retention is likely caused by a very violent moving body and lack of stickiness. Comes off very light in the visual, almost like a pale wheat ale. A decent ring of foam sticks around the edge of the glass.

S: Yummy light herbal hops with an almost pear skin like quality to it. There's a bit of a medicinal linger but not one that makes me feel like I'm getting my vitamins. I'm getting an actually kind of funky note of cucumber from the hops. Not bad, just comes off really light. The theme so far is lightness!

T: Once again, light. A fairly simple flavor of semi-old hops and supplement powders. There really is an aged taste to this thing, and it's really not very welcome. There doesn't seem to be any sign of infection, just kind of a funky mellow taste that takes the malt sweetness to a realm of bitter medicines. some mild orange rind before the medicine sets in.

M: An appropriately light slow bubble dissipation in the mouth. I like how there's a real effort to keep the theme of drinkability a top priority. Very light and almost air like, but still has a very noticeable IPA hop presence and general flavor transition. Not wet from alcohols, and not overly dry from the medicines. If the flavor could keep up with the mouth this would fair better.

O: I had this before, and I didn't remember it being this mediocre. I actually remember thinking it was very drinkable and respectable despite the suspicious low ABV and small clear-ish bottle. However, I think that this bottle may have seen a bit more time than it needed. The hops really come off tasting like a preservative, and the malt is ridden with cobwebs. This is an enjoyable beer fresh, but a mediocre beer without that element of freshness. Don't make a session ale out of this unless you are certain of the bottle date! (1,966 characters)

Photo of Klym
3.69/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Shared with Cavery.

A: Pours a translucent orange with a reasonable head for a pale ale.

S: This smells amazing for a pale ale. Citrus booms through this with a lovely, slight-hop pine character. Tons of tastey aroma.

T: Taste is honestly a let down. Initial taste is a nice citrus/resin/hop but it peaks quickly in a difficult-to-enjoy bitterness. Whats left is a weak, watery, mild hop and old citrus rind flavor that dies off in a few short moments. Transitions are kind of poor, but overall I'd still say it's above average.

M: Mouthfeel is a little watery and the carbonation in the mouth feels erratic.

O: I've actually had this once before, and I think my previous bottle was much better so maybe this bottle is a bit old. It's not a bad session ale and would be worth picking up if you see it, as it's a cheap bottle, but at the same time I wouldn't at all go out of my way to try this. (923 characters)

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I only have a single bottle of this, so I can't really test out the bold claims it makes in its name, but we'll see how it goes nonetheless.

Hazed mild golden colour, with a lot of streaming carbonation and a full, but pocked head of off-white. Body looks very light, as is to be expected. Head only leaves vapour trails of lacing. Not bad, but not that exciting.

Nose is wonderfully full and hoppy. Clean green fruit characters with plenty of zesty citrus. Really lovely sharp, fresh lemon and lime notes, very potent and very heady. The sharp nature of the fragrance cuts through whatever malt there may be there, but my guess is that this is not a very full-bodied beer anyway. Lovely fragrance though.

Taste is, yes, lacking in sweetness somewhat, and also hoppiness, but the palate manages to stay pretty much in balance. Light crisp hop characters on the front, with a mild and faint candied orange or light sugar character that feels very thin. Bitterness lingers on the back, but not because the bitterness itself is particularly pronounced—more that everything else drops out.

Tasty brew, and one with plenty of character. It does feel a bit weak and empty on the palate, but that's what you get for a 4.2% beer, and given the advantages of the low ABV, this hits what they were going for spot on. (1,312 characters)

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. No freshness date on bottle.

Pours a luminescent clear golden color capped with two fingers of white smooth-looking head.

Smells of grassy, leafy hops. Citrus notes are buried under the harsher hops in the nose. This almost has the biting qualities of an imperial pilsner.

The flavor takes a more laid back take on what was expressed in the nose, with the addition of more complex hop flavors. Basil, pineapple, evergreen and grapefruit are evident. Malts are present and balance so very nicely with all the hop flavors without detracting from them. Bitterness is low for the amount of flavor, which is awesome.

The mouthfeel could easily be that of a higher ABV beer, which is also awesome. The carbonation level is spot on, as is the thickness of the body.

Conclusion: I think this is a great West Coast take on the session beer idea. This is to the English Mild what West Coast IPAs are to English Pales. It saddens me that this beer only achieves a 'B+' on this site... as I believe there is a gaping hole in the American craft beer market for beers just like this one. (1,102 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saw this one tap at one of my favorite places. The beer poured out as a hazy golden yellow color with some fizzy white head on top. The aroma of the beer was probably the best part of the beer, I found it to have a very floral aroma to it and it was rather inviting. The taste of the beer wasn't as floral or hoppy as I was hoping it'd be. The mouthfeel was decent, pretty typical stuff for an APA. Overall the beer was quite good and had a solid amount of flavors and aromas from start to finish. (497 characters)

Photo of PEIhop
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Sweetwater Pint glass

A - Pours a bronzy-orange in color with ample carbonation. This carbonation leads to an impressive and bubbly head.

S - Very prominent hop aroma coupled with citrus notes.

T - Excellent hop bitterness that resembles the nose. The bitterness is smoothed out with malt entering late into the taste. Fruit is presence within the taste: orange and grapefruit. This beer is very crisp and refreshing.

M - Light body with ample carbonation.

D - This is a nice session ale. The crispness and bitterness with the low alcohol make it very enjoyable. (580 characters)

Photo of DCon
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a 12 Fl. Oz. bottle of this from Adam's Fine Wines in Redondo Beach, CA for $3.29. Poured from the Collaberation bottle with a Golden triangle connecting Stone, Ballast Point, and Kelsey McNair's Brewery Symbols into a Beer Mug and has no Freshness Date but by talking with the Liquor Store Manager, I know its fresh!

Aroma- Very strong citrus aroma with hints of other fruits like grapefruit and orange. Nice amount of malt here as well.

Appearance- Pours a 2 finger, bubbly head with a deep amber color body and slight haze. There is good lacing on the sides as well.

Flavor- High amount of citrus hop flavor and bready malt character. Good hop bitterness at the finish but nothing out of the ordinary for this style.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Medium Carbonation, and Smooth with a bitter bite at the end.

Overall Impression- Since this was a limited beer, Very low-key, easy drinking but very good! They could have done much more to this beer but I'm guessing they were just trying to brew a perfect, standard APA without any spontaneous ingredients. Fully enjoyed and am lucky to have a Liquor Store with 3 entire shelves of Stone beer. Good APA and if you get a chance, I would recommend. (1,209 characters)

Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy orange copper. A small amount of fluffy white head that leaves a ring around the edges. Nose is loaded with hops. Pine and citrus but with a weird pepper note. Smells bad but good at the same time, like something else related to hops. Taste is smooth bready/caramel malt blending with some piney citrus that turns to grassy/tangerine hops. A large amount of dryness on the finish but with a juicy fruity bitterness. Light and creamy body with a bold hop character backed by a smooth and creamy malt body. Interesting flavors and transitions between them. (559 characters)

Photo of jcurtis55
3.45/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark golden color with a small amount of head. Hops galore in the smell and the taste with lots of bitterness. Lots of flavor and mouthfeel for a beer with only 4.2% alcohol. I’m more of a malt lover, but if you love hops, you’ll likely like this beer a lot. (262 characters)

Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 270 ratings.