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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

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

373 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 373
Reviews: 271
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 12.56%
Wants: 14
Gots: 17 | 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:
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: 373 | Reviews: 271 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appears a pale golden orange copper hue with a bright white head, fine speckled lacing from the head forms tight. Aroma has quite a bit of garlic/onion spiciness amongst the grapefruit rind citrus peels. Mild pale biscuit malts in the background. Flavor makes you pucker up a bit with rough raw bitterness citrus peel/grapefruit rind/onion this has to have loads of summit to be giving me that onion tone. Drinks with a thinner body than the average hoppy as hell west coast ale, but this is designed to give in a bit in the malts to keep the alcohol in check. This is a bit like comparing Michelob Ultra to a standard Mich if you're talking to a beer lay person, but way more flavor with way less calories. Carbonation is moderate steady no complaints. A bit thin compared to some of the hoppy ales out there. Drinkability is solid a bit abrasive with the onion I guess it just depends how sensitive that is.

WVbeergeek, Oct 09, 2010
Photo of cdizinno
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Poured into a pint glass from growler purchased at Green's off Piney Grove in Columbia, SC

A: A bright golden, light amber color with a nice 2 finger white head that dies down a bit and clings to the sides of the glass moderately.

S: THIS is an IPA! Not an APA. The fruity, citrus and pine smell gives me that impression. I can't wait to taste it.

T&M: Piney hops all the way through. Fragrant, fruity hops that are mildly bitter all the way through to the end. The malts balance it out a bit, but it is all hops. Crisp and somewhat smooth, but there is a mild roughness from the oily hops that remain on the fade.

This stuff is excellent. Very drinkable at only 4.2% and I guess it may be considered an APA due to the ABV's. Not sure, but very good beer.

cdizinno, Oct 08, 2010
Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in straight pint glass. This beer was very lively and the bartender had a hard getting more beer than head in the glass. It poured a semi-hazy orangeish-yellow with a lot of white head that had moderate retention and lots of lacing.

A very strong pine hop aroma greets the nose without a noticeable malt foundation. The piney hops also dominate the tongue, again no noticeable malt presence. There was a weird taste that I couldn't identify, even after trying the beer several times. Kind of metallic or coppery, but different.

The body was too thin to be enjoyable. Other than the weird taste, drinkability was pretty good. I've had several and will have more.

beertunes, Oct 08, 2010
Photo of jampics2
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

This beer looks great, far above the average APA. It's a golden orange color, like liquid sunshine in a glass. The head is fluffy and white and clings to the side of the glass for dear life. Amazing lace and active carbonation.

The smell is equally impressive. Tons of citrus hops jump out of the glass, with grapefruit and orange aromas. Some sweet grass and slight kiss of caramel and toast from the malt round things. This really has an expressive and pleasant scent, very West Coast in nature - extreme and perfumey.

The taste is slightly less impressive, however. The hoppy bitterness reaches a creschendo of grapefruit rind, then some malt sweetness and earthy flavors take over. There's unfortunately a bit of a watery taste in the finish, but what can you expect from a 4.20% session beer.

The body is thin and highly carbonated. It's got a watery aftertaste with some moderate lingering bitterness. The mouthfeel is sub-par for the style, but, again, this has much less of a malt base than other APA's so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. It's very drinkable and enjoyable, perhaps even sessionable. A decent beer for the summer - I just wish it had come to Cleveland before Fall began.

jampics2, Oct 08, 2010
Photo of scottyshades
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Classified as an IPA on the bottle, APA on beeradvocate

A: Pours a mostly transparent, partly hop-hazed pale gold color with a small white cap. Retention is pretty good.

S: Lots of piny and resinous hops, along with a mellow pale malt accent. The hops really dominate the nose, and really give a nice floral note. Seems like a subdued version of a West Coast style IPA.

T: Probably the most flavorful beer I've tasted under 5%. I really like this one. Bitter resinous hops in the flavor, but it doesn't have the stickiness from the alcohol, and you can really throw these back. Light pale malt backing, but for the most part, the hops are pretty damn intense.

MF/D: Medium carbonation, slightly prickly feel, awesome resinous hop finish. Drinkability is awesome due to the amount of flavor and the lack of alcohol.

Notes: I usually don't care for resinous IPAs, but this one is awesome. So much flavor and so little alcohol. New favorite session beer for sure.

scottyshades, Oct 06, 2010
Photo of axeman9182
2.73/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

16oz pint served at the Rattle n Hum.

The newest Stone collaboration beer looks great. It's a slightly hazy straight orange color. There's fluffy white cap sitting on top is about a finger in height, and plenty of lacing gets left down the side of the glass. Wow... this beer has a pungent hop aroma, bigger than some IPAs I've had. I can find both pine and citrus notes, as well as some resiny ones. There's no malt influence at all detectable, not sure how this bodes for the beer. San Diego County Session Ale proves that there is such a thing as a beer being over hopped. The same hop flavors from the nose are appreciable, but even moreso is a huge blast of hop bitterness that, without any malt sweetness whatsoever to act as a counterpoint, runs roughshod over this beer. The bitterness also lingers unpleasantly, growing a little more intense as I work my way down the glass. At least the mouthfeel is solid, a nice light body (without being watery) and decent, average level carbonation. Unfortunately the overhopping and resulting bitterness suck any real joy out of drinking SDCSA, which could have been a good beer if the hops got turned down from eleven.

axeman9182, Oct 06, 2010
Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Blind Tiger, NYC.

Poured a light copper hue with a one finger frothy white head. There was good retention and very good lacing.

The smell featured a slightly citrusy but mostly herbal hop with a spicy garden weed aroma.

The taste was clean and grainy with a lingering hop spice.

The mouthfeel was thin even considering the low ABV. There was vigorous carbonation.

Overall a good hop driven session ale. However, a bit thin flavorwise.

plaid75, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of drabmuh
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another beer on draft at Churchkey last night and another stand out.

Beer is yellow with a mild haze and a big head of medium and large bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low.

Aroma is like an IPA, its a great great smelling hugely hoppy beer. Awesome.

Beer is medium bodied and very hoppy with strong bitterness and some good hop flavors. Not sweet at all and a very sessionable beer. This was one of my favorites of the night.

drabmuh, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of Thorpe429
4.53/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Churchkey during the Stone 40 tap event.

Pours a light orangish copper with a nice white head and a good amount of lacing on the way down. Nose is pretty big with nice citrus, floral, and herbal notes. Taste is even bigger with a pretty whopping amount of bitterness. That is about it--just straigt, unrestrained hops. Mouthfeel is light and dy. Drinkability is off the charts. The ulimate session beer, falling only behind Bullfrog Citra-Delic.

Thorpe429, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of acurtis
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

San Diego County Session Ale Growler fill from tap at BierKraft 10/1 -
on 10/4 poured into greenport harbor shaker. Pours golden with huge off white head that
lasted almost entire glass. Wonderful sweet aroma of hops, smells so good. Very flavorful and drinkable pale ale. Nice finish. Cool collaboration idea but will it create a great brew? Well....It is at least a very good brew and should be tried by all IPA lovers.

acurtis, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of silver0rlead
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this on tap and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was glad to find bottles of it. Pours a slightly hazy gold with a frothy white head that leaves really pretty lacing. The aroma has huge fresh hop notes (citrus, grapefruit, flora, pine, heady cannibus), along with some light biscuit and bready character, a bit of caramel sweetness, some fruity esters and not a whole lot else...not much malt depth to the aroma but the fresh hop onslaught takes this to another level. The flavor is similar to the aroma, all hops with notes of citrus and pine, as well as some grapefruit and cannabis, along with a bit of biscuit and bread dough, fruity esters, caramel and a bit of chalk. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and drinkability is OK but limited by the intense bitterness. This beer has all the flavor of a nice DIPA but half the alcohol, which is interesting and unique.

silver0rlead, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of Khazadum
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed at my traditional Friday excursion to Lincoln Park Binny's. Figured I'd give it a shot.

A- Short rise of gigantic bubbles quickly dissipates to leave a similar collar. Very little residue, more like biofilm for a cap. Lemonhead amber liquid, Many individual bubble streams. The collar fakes a moderate amount of lacing.

S- Large amount of aromatics here! Strongly grapefruit in character, citrus of oranges and lemons behind that, notebook paper, and minute hops profile.

T- The grapefruit is a tease. It gives me the Sistine chapel touch before the hops dominate. A huge kick in the teeth of pine resin pretty much takes over and dominates even into the finish after the sweet fiction of a start. Very duo chromatic nature here.

M- Refreshing, almost thin, moderate body. Many places of residue. Lips and all surrounding tissues, cheeks, soft and hard palate, teeth. The hops just cling every where the little buggers can find.

D- Delicious and enjoyable to drink. I prefer to smell it to be honest, but that won't last forever. The hops become distracting towards the middle, but it is no where near the annoyance of a hop bomb. As expected, the alcohol is not a problem. I'd tick it again, but I wouldn't order it when I was in the mood for an APA.

Khazadum, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of mikey711
3.1/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Bright straw color with a nice level of rising carbonation. a small head that holds pretty well and leaves a bit of lace.

S: soapy floral notes with a touch of pine and a bit of lemon citrus. a slight bready note is present as well.

T: Very piney upfront before transitioning to a bit of soapy floral hoppiness. a touch of earthiness as well.

m: very light and slightly oily but not googy hop oil but almost buttery

D: I could definitely drink a good amount of this but the overly soapy and perfumy pininess is somewhat off putting

mikey711, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of Bung
3.4/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Brighter gold pour, finger of white head.

Aroma is herbal pine hoppy, pretty much it.

Taste, also herbal and piney hops. Finishes the same. Pretty straight forward.

Lighter bodied, nearly watery thin. Obviously quite drinkable, but I just don't find it all that inviting for another. I'll scacrifice the extra 0.8 abv and drink something with a little more to it.

Bung, Oct 02, 2010
Photo of avalon07
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a yellowish color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a half inch of creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A strong - much stronger than most APAs - aroma of hops, malt, citrus, and a piney resin.

T: Had a much higher hops content than you'd expect for the style. There were elements of citrus and resin as well, with a malty backbone. Not exactly true to the style, but a good flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Light-bodied.

D: A drinkable APA.

avalon07, Oct 02, 2010
Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.25/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden copper with lots of bubbles and a 1/2 finger head that is thick and foamy. A surprising amount of lacing is left on the glass as the foam subsides.

S: Strong hop aroma, both citrus and resin. It smells almost as hoppy as an IPA. There's a touch of grain on the nose, but it's very faint.

T: The hops are very strong for a pale ale, especially one with an abv this low. I like the hops on the front and mid-palate - fresh with some grapefruit and pine - but an intense bitterness comes on in the finish that lingers longer than I would like. There's very little malt backbone here, so the hops take control and leave things a bit out of balance.

M: Body is on the lighter side. Lots of carbonation lends a bit of crisp and a bit of creamy to the mouthfeel, without which I think the beer would come across as just being watery.

D: This may have a sessionable abv, but there's too much hop flavor for me to want more than one. I'm halfway through the bottle and the bitter taste at the back of my mouth is just getting stronger.

I think the idea of creating a session ale is great, but this one doesn't cut it. If the hops were dialed back a bit this could be a much better brew.

FunkyMacGroovin, Sep 30, 2010
Photo of Kegatron
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ the Three Penny Taproom (Montpelier, VT) on 9/25/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper, with a finger of tight looking bright-white foamy head. This retains with a frothy richness that covers the sides of the glass with some rather robust lacing. This was a good look to it. The aroma is floral in the nose, with notes of sweet citrus and toasted malts. Some notes of pine and spice work themselves into the mix as well but this just seems to be a little too light at times. I was definitely looking for a touch more power to the flavors, especially considering how the taste comes off.

The taste is fairly aggressive with West Coast attitude, with a hoppy punch of bitter rind; green citrus, spice, and a heady dose of pine all laying it on thick in the mouth. There is some sweet toasted graininess across the back of the palate that seems to be placed right were it needs to be, balancing out the overt bitterness here while still allowing those hops to shine brightly. Pine and spice hang fairly hard on the tongue with a deep bitter dryness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a touch of lighter sharpness that prickles the mouth with all of those hops. There is some slickness to the body but the combo of the bitterness and that shaprness to the feel just keep this from feeling completely smooth in the mouth.

Is this beer San Diego? Absolutely! Is it sessionable? Eh, I'm not quite sure about that. Just a lot of bitterness here and while it was balanced and drinkable for the most part, I don't know if I could handle pint after pint of this. I could definitely see how others might see that differently though. I'm still glad that I got to try this one, as this latest Stone collaboration had slipped under my radar.

Kegatron, Sep 29, 2010
Photo of silentjay
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

rather clear golden with a huge creamy white head that retains and laces well.

very grassy, a bit piney, and a tad citrus hoppy aroma. smells like an ipa, and a hoppy one at that.

very grassy, almost dirty, and peppery hop profile dominates and finishes dry. no discernable malt profile, which was probably intended. pretty one dimensional, but strong flavored.

very light bodied with ample carbonation and a tiny resiny/oily feel.

well, they nailed it with drinkability for hop lovers, which was what they intended, so good job there. a good sessionable ale, but not quite at a sessionable price.

silentjay, Sep 28, 2010
Photo of DefenCorps
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the beers I grabbed today in Breckenridge.

Pouring a crystal clear amber with a dense off-white head with excellent retention and nice lacing, this beer looks very good. The nose is just outrageously hoppy. I heard that they tried to hop the hell out of this one, and it shows. A tropical fruit salad, there's mango, papaya, pineapple and a very sharp grassy pine character. Malt character is, as expected, non-existent. Moderately reminiscent of Sculpin, this is excellent stuff.

The palate opens bruising bitter with a massive, sharp, pine character. Surprisingly, there isn't much pine resin, and that makes the bitterness that much more taxing. Most of the dry hop character, while present, is rather washed out by the hop bitterness. Malt is not really noticeable here either. Bitter and drying on the finish with some pine resin (not enough, IMO), this beer is light in body and is carbonated a little too high for my liking. With a bruising finish, this beer is too bitter (and too expensive) to be a true session beer. I'm glad I got to try it, though, it really does have an excellent aroma.

DefenCorps, Sep 27, 2010
Photo of OlieIPA
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Stone tulip glass

A: Sports a deep gold body with a rocky, frothy, white head. An extremely cleared out beer as well, which gives an even more desirable appearance.

S: A nice mix of grassy and citrus hop aroma, with accent on the hops, not malt.

T: The flavor has a touch malt, with traces of wheat and caramel. The hop bitterness is attenuated by the low amount of malt sweetness, and tends to linger on the palate long after the sip.

M: Incredibly light on the palate with ample amounts of carbonation.

D: A good example of a "session-like" beer, but the over abundance of hops deterred me at times. Don't get me wrong, I'm a hophead at heart, but I wish there would have been a little more of a malt body or less bittering hops to balance it out.

Overall: One of the better collaborations to come out of the Stone Brewing Co. in recent years, but I found the disparity between the malt and hops too great at times. A try it beer. Cheers!

OlieIPA, Sep 27, 2010
Photo of Liverpool08
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright golden orange. Nice puffy head.
Aroma of grapefruit, pine and big grass aromas.
You get parsley, along with the pine aroma. Its a great bitter taste. Not the usual piney/hops. But a great grassy, herby bite. This is such a nice uniquie beer. Very clean in the mouth, and invites more sips. The low ABV makes this a super easy brew to have plenty of. This is a great Collaboration beer.

Liverpool08, Sep 26, 2010
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer, probably one I'd pick up in 6-packs as my go-to beer.

Pours a bright, light golden with a very white, fluffy and dense head. Great looking beer, nice lacing. Perfect.

Almost perfect on the aroma, as it is missing some malt to balance it out. Hop forward; citrus and some banana. Dry, light and mouth watering.

Citrus, of course, as the main flavor. Blood orange, persimmon tartness, tangerine finish. Very light biscuit malt, could use a bit more balance if aiming for hitting the style.

Dry and crisp feel and finish. At 4.2 abv this is quite drinkable. Rivals the Levitation.

Mebuzzard, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of Gobzilla
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a slight hazy golden orange with yellow highlights that had a thin bubbly white head and did leave a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: mango, pineapple, pine, and hops are noticeable right away with a good sweet malt presence but was also able to detect slight citrus, tangerine, and grass notes; great aroma.

T: on the first couple of sips I really enjoyed how the pine hops and grass work together but still has some fruitiness consisting of tangerine, citrus, mango, and slight pineapple. Accents. It even had a pretty good malt backbone to balance out the hop bite.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a fruity, slight sweet but pine hop bitter crisp finish.

D: it drank really good and was definitely a west coast style IPA. That it probably one of my favorite collaboration brews from the stone brewery.

Gobzilla, Sep 25, 2010
Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -- Pours a honey amber, mild haze, with one finger of stiff beige head.

Smell -- Lots of pine, earthy floral/vegetal, as well as grapefruit. Graininess is not very evident in the nose, but some caramel sweetness eeks out of the massive bouquet of hop aroma. Buttery diacetyl also present. Very aromatic, which I appreciate.

Taste -- Very bitter, very dry. An abundance of pine resin and orange pith - intensely bitter. Malt is husky and dry. The hop flavor fizzles out toward the finish and the overall flavor seems watered-down. Finish is all resin.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-light in body, moderate prickly carbonation, with an oily finish. Pretty much what you'd hope for in a hop-forward APA.

Drinkability -- It's good, but I wouldn't want to have a second. Hop blast, then watered-down pale ale. Glad I tried it, but it didn't meet all of my expectations.

yeahnatenelson, Sep 24, 2010
Photo of cbutova
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Clear white orange with a nice creamy white head. Good retention, nice and frothy. Some spots of thick lace.

S- Reminiscent of Sculpin for sure, can smell it from several feet away. Amazing tropical and citrus fruit notes. Some pine and earthy hints. Just like with Sculpin, I feel like it is going to taste like a sweet tropical fruit wonderland. Fabulous.

T- Very flavorful hops lend tropical fruit, pine, earthy and even spicy notes. A pretty large citrus zing upon swallowing. The hops fade in the finish and a nice light caramel, bready malt backbone comes through.

MF- Very light body with some creaminess to it and high carbonation stinging the palate. Pretty damn bitter for the goal of this one, wish it was a bit less.

DB- The first few sips of this one blew me away. It smells absolutely fantastic but the taste becomes slightly unbalanced because the hops take over the nice malt. My burps are so amazing right now, taste like Sculpin and Alesmith IPA. Great hop profile, a bit too bitter and I wish the malt wasn't massacred (for a "session" beer at least).

cbutova, Sep 24, 2010
Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 373 ratings.