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
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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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 270 | Ratings: 376
Reviews by Halcyondays:
Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours orange with a light finger of white head, some good lace.

S: Definite hop character, some grapefruit notes, nice nose.

T: Very strong hop character which belies the low alcohol, like a Bizarro Mild. The malt here is very light, almost grainy, but the hop character blasts through with a lot of grapefruit, some cedarwood.

M: Light-bodied, easy on the palate but with a bit of soapy carbonation feel.

D: Nice beer, you get a lot of hop flavour for your 4.2% alcohol, so it should please the hopheads wanting something light.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of SkunkWorks
3.57/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Bobbique in Patchogue, NY. Served in a nonic.

Look: pale, transparent copper body with a bit of creamy white foam at the top that doesn't stick around for too long and doesn't leave lacing behind either.

Smell: citrus, floral and piney hops are all here but nothing else.

Taste: tastes like hop soda. Follows the nose with the familiar hop characters we all know and love, i.e. citrus, flowers, and a bit of pine. There's nothing else there though. I can't even taste any malt flavors at all.

Feel: incredibly thin, possibly the thinnest beer I've had. If it isn't thinner than Bud Lite, it is still definitely the thinnest craft beer I've ever had. Not much sweetness, carbonated well, fairly crisp and refreshing.

Drink: high. Could easily be sessioned if it weren't so expensive.

Overall, this might get a higher score if it were a mild or something but as an American Pale Ale its a bit too light in too many ways to really blow your mind. I know what Stone is going for with this one, but I have a hard time paying for too many of these considering the price of craft beer. Basically, this has the strength of an American Adjunct Lager with more hops costing twice as much. Maybe give it a try if this is your thing but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of FunkyMacGroovin
3.23/5  rDev -19%
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.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of Bajasith
4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured an exceptional cloudy amber color with a thin one finger head that cleared quickly...

Loads of ripe floral and citrus aroma dominating the olfactory...

Assertive hop bitterness takes the stage as a hint of grapefruit lingers in the back of the tongue. Malts have a limited role as small amount of caramel mellows the bitterness...

Medium bodied. Earthy piney crisp from start to finish. Some dryness arrives late. Pure joy with this Session...

Very well collaborated. A hop craving cure. This beer was very easy to quaff and the low 4.2 alcohol level make this a perfect beer to consume over and over again.

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Photo of Doodler
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of beagle75
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

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

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

S: Intense juicy grapefruit unaccompanied by other elements.

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

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

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

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Photo of modernartblues
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Golden Copper Body, Huge 2" head of brilliant white, some messy lacing...NICE

S: nice hoppy C hop character, bright and brilliant with a touch of biscuitness backing it up

T: some sweet malt pokes its way through, but the front page story is the citrusy hops (more so than SNPA), this is really an intriguing flavor profile, obvious they used a plethora of likey

M: full for the abv, but nice and full on the palate

D: hope to see this in make that 12 packs

this beer is more than a month or so past the 'freshness' date on the bottle and I'm still wowed by it...

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Photo of Kaiser81
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from Distiller's Outlet tonight. Figured it was a good nightcap to my soccer double header. Missed the championship by 1 goal. Oh well.

12 oz bottle (been in the fridge for only an hour) poured into my snifter glass

A - A clear copper with a finger width of head that leaves very nice lacing on my glass. Decent head retention too.

S - Lots of pine and grapefruit smells. If i didn't know any better, I thought it may be an ipa. There is a touch of sweet tropical fruits on the back end with a slight sweetness from the malt as well. It's good.

T - I think the pine taste is dominant in this one. It kind of switches back with a touch of grapefruit, and then lingering grapefruit notes. Not a whole lot of malts balancing this out. After the l

M - Dry finish with a medium body and slightly above light carbonation.

D - Definitely a sessionable beer. It's good stuff, and I'm drinking it easily. Wish it was in the fridge for another 20 minutes though. My bad.

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Photo of BigV
5/5  rDev +25.3%

3.52/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle to pint glass. Sampled 10/28/10. $5.50 for the single.

A: A one finger head of foamy white bubbles transforms into a sudsy film over an average amount of time. Moderately hazy, the body is medium dark amber orange with a transparency close to 70%. Lacing is fair.

S: The light malt aromas of toasted bread and caramel stand up just enough in this heavily hopped pale ale. Dominating citrus aromas include grapefruit and orange.

T: The nose carries over to the palate and adds notes of spice, white pepper and dust. The big hop flavor is enhanced by the [particularly] small malt bill, which is just big enough to provide an adequate mouthfeel.

M: Medium light in body, creamy in texture with an average level of effervesence, which promotes the the first two qualities even further. Rather bitter on the finish.

D: Better than average drinkability. Even though San Diego County Session Ale is by no means a spectacular brew, it is very successful as far as the concept and execution are concerned. The impetus of this collaborative brew was to prove that an ABV-challenged brew could be as flavorful as its high-ABV brethren...and it is! However, as others have said, I must agree that this beer is wayyy overpriced for, not just a session beer, but a beer that is just not that great to begin with. A repeat purchase is unlikely.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

Light almost bubbly mouthfeel floats down the tongue.

Drinkable? Hell, its a session ale!

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

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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 htomsirveaux
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
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 zestar
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

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 DovaliHops
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy orange color with a medium white head. Smells very hoppy with a light, sweet caramel backbone. Taste is very interesting... It's like a little APA that wants to become an IPA, but just can't do it. This beer definitely is trying. It has some great hoppy notes to it, but just kinda dies off quickly. It's got a nice punch at the beginning with hoppy bitterness and grapefruit notes, but then dies off into a watery, not-so-great flavor profile. Mouthfeel is crisp and a little on the watery side. Drinkability is fairly high. Not a bad beer at all, but if I'm gonna have something of this style...I would MUCH RATHER have a FW Pale Ale. Similar ABV, but flavors cannot even compete.

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Photo of chilidog
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Found this after hunting for it, sold in single 12 oz. bottles only.I grabbed three. Collaboration and complex indeed.

It pours well carbonated. Golden color, white short lived head. Little spot lace.

Aroma starts out the nose like opening a bag of hop pellets and sticking your face in.

Taste the sweet malts up front followed quickly by the hop bite of bitterness, pine and citric.

The mouth is left a hop dry though a coat of hop bitter bite oils the rear and lingers.

If you enjoy a complex beer this beer is a very drinkable brew. So much flavor at only 4.2%abv is very well done. A true Craft Beer.

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Photo of Orangeman
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Stone Brewing's World Bistro & Gardens and it was delicious. It differs from Stone's super hoppy style and was a welcome change. It was extremely fragrant and had some great floral hops on the nose as well as in the flavor while being balanced out nicely with malts. Definitely a sessionable beer and I'd love to get my hands on some more!

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a golden/straw color with a bit of haze, decent white head, and nice lace. Nose packs a punch with tangerines, grapefruit, and maybe orange peels. Palate is mouthpuckering dry with a good hit of bitterness, some pine, and finishes extremely dry. This is more like a contemplative IPA than a mere session ale, or sessionable pale ale. Not exactly drinkable like those styles tend to be. Dare say, I couldn't possibly have more than one of these.

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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 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 Anaz
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-nice golden amber with a persistent foamy white head.

S-Spicy, citrusy hops with piney and herbaceous notes underneath.

T-Piney, grassy, citrusy hop explosion with a subdued malt character. Huge hop flavor for a beer of this abv, but, as with Levitation, Stone has shown that low abv beers can be beautifully hopped monsters. The bitterness is light, clean, and balanced despite low yeast character and a spare malt character. Hops are the showcase here.

M-Light body and carbonation with clean bitterness.

D-Really nice, refreshing beer, though I'd probably move onto something with more malt or yeast character after two or three. Very glad to have tried this, another great brewing collaboration.

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Photo of Naerhu
2.18/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Wow, I'd never thought I'd ever have a weedy uninteresting beer from stone, but here it is.

The aroma is huge amounts of citrusy hops, but no complexity.

There is very little malt to back up the intense weedy / pine bitterness of this beer. There was a bit of grapefruit as well, but no sweetness bring out the fruityness. Unless you are really focusing, all you get is a mouth full of bitter with this beer.

The mouthfeel leaves me flat as well, just completely thin body.

I finished this beer, but thats the best I can say about it, and did not leave me wanting another.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -4%
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.

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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