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

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Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session AleStone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale
Very Good
376 Ratings
Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session AleStone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Collaboration with Ballast Point Brewing and Kelsey McNair

Added by mcallister on 08-07-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 376 |  Reviews: 270
Reviews by Cavery:
Photo of Cavery
3.32/5  rDev -16.8%
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!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass a clear lighter copper/bronze shade with a well defined one finger white head atop.Big grapefruit rind packed in the nose,really fresh and it jumped out at ya,I deteced a little mineral in there as well.Sharp hoppy flavors hit the palate with a sweet biscuit malt base thrown in,it doesnt hold up to the hops though.A little prickly in the feel but this a hop heads dream here,big hops,and very quaffable,this is a cool beer.

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Photo of Britton
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of Billolick
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle

Best before 11 10 10, etched onto the bottom of the bottle.

Lightly hazed, dull, lighter tangarine. Off white head, a slow fader, thick collar and leaving ample thicker bits of lacing.

Pungent hopped nose, with grapefruit jumping out.

Fresh tasting, hopped up and thoroughly enjoyable ale. More grapefruit, sweat biscuity malts pave the way for this tasty and at 4.2% quite sessionable offering...duh...nice beer....but no bargain @ $3.99 for the 12 ouncer

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Photo of Mora2000
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with a white head. The aroma is very fruity. I get a lot of fresh papaya and some pine hop character. The beer smells about like an IPA.

The flavor is a mix of papaya and pine with low to medium bitterness. There is a little bit of bready malt, but this beer is all about the hops. Very drinkable.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This beer has a ton of flavor in a lower alcohol package. I wish breweries would brew more beers like this, instead of just seeing how high the alcohol can be.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.03/5  rDev +1%
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 Beerandraiderfan
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
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?

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Photo of mondegreen
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Stone shaker pint.

A: Very pale yellow, almost like translucent straw, A healthy head sits atop the brew for several minutes, ultimately fading into a thin layer of froth atop the brew.

S: Bright hops. Not face smacking, but certainly respectable given the ABV. It's apparent by the nose (and the name) that hops are the focal point of this brew.

T: Floral and hoppy, but quite thin. A lingering bitterness on the back end, with a hint of grain. Respectable for a "session" pale ale.

M: Very very thin, but nicely carbonated.

D: Strong point of the beer, obviously. Very quaffable.

As a side note, why in the world is this beer $3.49 for a single? This is the sort of beer that I could drop $7-9 for a six pack and feel like I got a decent deal. It's a solid beer, and I appreciate what the West Coast guys did on this one, but the hops, malt, yeast, and water in this one don't add up to the final price. Collabo tax, I guess.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.55/5  rDev -11%
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.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.74/5  rDev +18.8%
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 kevwcamp
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of acurtis
4.07/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of klshanks
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aopearance= Golden orange

Smell- Grapefruit, Citru. Strong and aromatic

Taste- Carbonated, grassy, orange, spicy, piney,

Mouthfeel- bubbly, crisp

Overall, this beer is the closest thing to FFF gumballhead that I can recall tasting. It's a bit more balanced on the hop/malt side than GH is, with a little bit thicker mouthfeel, but pretty close.

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Photo of AlexChillton
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of alamode
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of Stigs
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, served in a Stone pint glass

A - pours with almost half an inch of creamy, white foam with a slightly yellowish tint. the beer is crystal clear, on the darker side of gold in color. leaves behind a moderately heavy wall of sticky lace on the glass.

S - fresh, bright citrusy, grassy, slightly piney hops. citrus dominates with some slightly over-ripened melon and pineapple.

T - assertive hop bitterness right out of the gate. hop flavors take their time settling in, with bright wet grass and pine taking hold first. more fruity and mellow citrus fruits come in, as well as some mild spice and "cattyness". malts barely play any role in this, with some some light caramel coming in near the end as it warms.

M - adequate moderate and pinchy carbonation. body is on the thin side, and finishes dry with a big lingering piney hop bitterness.

D - very well done. cures a hop craving with a light (almost to a fault) body, and an insanely manageable ABV. 2 or more of these will go down without a problem. many thanks to BA'er electricant for sending me a couple of these as part of his first trade - welcome to the madness.

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Photo of nkersten
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into NB globe. Slightly hazy golden orange with a thin white creamy head with nice retention and lacing. Smell is great - up there with some of the best pale ales and IPAs. Lots of tropical fruits, apricot, and subtle sweet malts. Taste is not as intense as the smell but still pleasant. Bitter hops with a touch of tropical fruit and pine, slightly sweet malt finish. Medium light body with a medium carbonation. Overall a very flavorfull pale ale, my only complaint with this is the price... $20+ for a 6 pack is too much for a session beer, but I will most likely buy a single bottle of this now and then.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Amber liquid with a soapy finger of ghost white foam. Good retention, rich sticky sudsy lacing.

The aromatics are typified by intense pungent juicy hops - full of tropical fruit (mango, guava, pineapple), citrus (grapefruit/pomelo), and lighter waves of pine and flowers.

Assertive spicy hop bitterness on the palate is balanced by a clean brisk pale malt. Subtle fruit can be noted throughout the flavor profile, but the finish is cutting and dry and suggestive of white tea.

Light bodied, well carbonated, and vaguely creamy.

A crisp, drinkable, lovely APA...and yet fresh, I would say hop-heads only need apply.

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Photo of TheSupremeAJ
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Blue Dog in Lansdale, PA.

A- A little dark for a Pale Ale and likely why its referred to as session ale. A little light for a session ale in my opinion.

S- Smells hoppy for a session ale... it seems like a very good pale ale a few steps above my old favorite classic SN pale ale.

T- Outstanding! Hoppy, malty, not bitter or boozey!

M- Very nice with a cool mouthfeel.

D- Very high drinkability and very non-offensive. This could be my to drink with dinner beer and remain composed.

Very good... and I want a case.

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4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into mug.
A: This session ale pours a very nice, light golden color and the white head sits in a nice fluffy manner. The lacing is left in a thick layer. The appearance of this brew would say that it could be a larger, more strong brew, like its counterparts.

S: The aroma is medium intensity, but shows strong notes of grapefruit. A bit of a herbal aroma.

T/M: The taste is a bit of an over powering grapefruit, one that is some what nice, because it is sensed that the taste is coming from the hops, but not too complex with other flavors. The mouthfeel is very nice, with a smooth and refreshing wash down, leaving a dry and bitter off taste.

D: This is a really good session brew, light in body, but still holds the key hop flavors that are enjoyed. The cost 3$ per 12oz bottle, does not make it that much of a session ale. not some thing I would spend almost 20$ for a 6pack of.

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Photo of socon67
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
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 SpeedwayJim
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
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 prototypic
4.32/5  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.

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Photo of tempest
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Stone / Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair - San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 376 ratings