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

Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session AleStone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale
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American Pale Ale (APA)
4.02 | pDev: 12.19%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session AleStone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale
Notes: Collaboration with Ballast Point Brewing and Kelsey McNair
Reviews: 270 | Ratings: 376 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
4.06/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old review from notes.

Yellow beer with lots of clarity. Nice white 1/2" head. Aroma seemed like a great mix of newer style ipa hops. Amarillo seemed to jump. Plenty of citrus and pine. One of the first session ipas I've come across. The price at $3/12oz was a little heavy, but if they could drop it to $2 a bottle, I think it could work.

This beer stays very light on its feet while packing plenty of flavor. There's been better ones going on lately.

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Photo of rand
4.09/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes, poured into pint glass

A nice little session ale, surprised how much I liked this as I've been pretty underwhelmed by this series. Copper tan in color, the nose is malt-forward with touch of citrus-hop snap drying the bouquet. A little more hoppy on the palate, a citrusy overtone is well balanced by a pleasant toffee sweetness. Nothing is overdone...exactly what you'd want from a daytime session brew. Wish they'd make this again.

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Photo of socon67
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Orange color and quite cloudy. Sticky lacing on the glass. Tan foam settles a bit slowly.

S - Pine cones and hop resin smell. Has a light malt and light grain smell. Smells a little like pancake batter.

T - Very nice session beer. Light drinking with a residual sweetness. Finish has a mild bitterness. Tastes very much like a mild west coast IPA, but without the citrus nites and more sweet malt.

M - Easy to session. Light feel, solid balance, and keeps your taste buds interested.

O - Doubt I'll see this one again, but I'd enjoy finding it.

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.92/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear, light amber with a one-inch, off-white, rocky head that deposits sticky lace and lots of carbonation on a fisheye pint glass. Meanwhile, the yeast was left in the bottle.

A fruity first impression is overtaken by pine hops and pine resin, while orange and spices linger in the background.

There is a good dose of bitterness followed by caramel and dried hay. This one is very dry with orange rind and unsweetened green tea being most prevalent. Crispness is followed by a long, dry, bitter finish.

Full bodied with a dry, satin texture, lively carbonation, a hint of astringency and no alcohol whatsoever.

As stated in the name, this is easily a session beer to be enjoyed with friends while winding down after work on a cool evening.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.82/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 14 Mar 2011. Served in the Bright Brewing shaker pint.

Medium sized foamy parchment colored head. Well carbonated. Cloudy golden amber in color, some floaties. Aroma is sweet, orange and grapefruit. Pithy bitter to start, and throughout. Juicy grapefruit and citrus. Medium body, sticky mouthfeel. Ethanol is light. Bitter grapefruit finish is a bit dry.

Would be easy to have several of these in a row. Imagine that.

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Photo of BrewingViking
3.12/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

S - sharp hop aroma
A - orange with slight haze. thick white head leaving lacing
F - malty with citrus/piney hop flavor. slight bitterness that lasts on the tongue
M - medium light body and dry finish
O - good pale session ale. nothing really special but nice to just sit and enjoy. another good collaboration ale

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

Review from 12/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a slightly cloudy light orange amber. Light head and moderate lacing. Looks nice. Light citrus and sweet malt aroma. Very hoppy start with citrus and spicy hops, light fruit. Approaches a decent APA level of flavor and hoppyness. Finishes with nice hop bitterness. Quite a flavorful ale for such low ABV. Really glad I got to try this.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was surprised to find this where I did, and figured it would be too far gone, but alas, this was not the case. Great vibrancy and distinct hop tones. Pretty clean with a lot of character getting in on the mix. I definitely like this as a "session ale." It's too bad I don't have more of these ready to drink.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy golden yellow with some hints of orange in color with some very light bits of dark (almost black) sediment through the bottom 50% of the glass. The beer has a half finger tall off-white head that reduces to a very thin layer covering most of the surface of the beer with some patches and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant lacing is observed.

S: This beer has a very pleasant aroma, some light biscuit malts with lots of different hop aromas. The hops contribute pine, grapefruit, citrus/lemon, and just a hint of bitter orange rind.

T: The flavor definitely follows the smell, there is a very easy to appreciate light bitterness. The malt presence is very light and well balanced with the bitterness contributed by the different hops. I really like how light flavored this beer is with the pine, grapefruit, and citrus hop elements.

M: Light bodied with moderate amount of carbonation. Very dry throughout.

O: This is a really nice sessionable APA, very enjoyable and very easy to drink. This beer has a nice balance of flavor, unfortunately the collaboration is only brewed the one time as I would likely pick some more of this up to have in the future.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally was able to try this! I've been looking for a "session IPA" which I realize doesn't make any sense as by definition there is no such thing, though heard this would be close. Poured from bottle to pint glass the beer pours an orange golden color with a decent 1 finger white head with some retention and lacing, looks inviting. The aroma is nice and hoppy. Floral with citrus and pine tones. The malt base is also prevelant which allows for a nice aroma. The flavor is more pronounced than I expected for such a small/session beer. The citrus flavor from the hops as found in the nose is immediately prominent with a hint of pine in the back end, medium bitter. Fruity sweetness though not overly so the malt provides a grainy base, though make no mistake, this is a hoppy brew. Finishes rather creamy and light. Lighter bodied though certainly not watery with good carbonation. Overall, I was impressed with how much flavor they were able to pack into this session beer. I would happily drink several of these.

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Photo of beergoot
3.54/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light honey-yellow body with a thin yet persistent white head. Clinging foam sticks to the glass sides.

Rich malt sweetness with hints of melon, pear, and and honey. The hops are spicy and pungent with good floral characteristics.

Light biscuit malt flavor that quickly gets trumped by hop bitterness.

Bright and vibrant mouthfeel, light-to-medium in body.

For a session ale, this has enough flair to know you're drinking a better than average beer. Its strong point seems to be in the aroma - very pleasant and inviting. The taste is nothing special but decent enough. Worth a taste...

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

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Photo of TTAmod
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.22/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of TheCorkStopsHere
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of Rutager
3.9/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.74/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -35.3%
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.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
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.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.49/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

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Photo of palma
2.23/5  rDev -44.5%
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.

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Photo of nrbw23
2.39/5  rDev -40.5%
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.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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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

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Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 376 ratings