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

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Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session AleBallast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone 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:
No notes at this time.

Added by mcallister on 08-07-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 270 | Ratings: 376
Photo of Givemesome
5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow, smells like Double Bastard to me, or maybe just Arrogant Bastard! This has to be my favorite beer right now. A bit expensive for a session ale but worth it! I hope Kelsey McNair starts making this brew in massive quanities soon because he has a winner. Hop's Hop's Hop's! I love it, taste similar to Blind Pig from Russian River and priced pretty much the same with less Alc/Vol. I can drink this all day! Has a very strong Piney, grassy, hop taste that I personallly love in I.P.A's This would be always stocked in my fridge if it were a bit cheaper!

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Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes: Poured into a room temp tulip glass from a 12oz. bottle.

appearance: golden yellow orange with a 2 finger head that lingered for some time.

smell: floral, citrus, hops, and some pine.

taste: floral, pure bitterness that just goes down smooth.

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, light to medium body, crisp

drinkability: definitely a session beer. was hoping for something more unique.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of LittleDon
4.92/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A pint had at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, CA.

Golden with a touch of amber and clear. Some carbonation and a sufficiently dense head. Good head retention. Grapefruit aroma and a bit on the resinous side. Leans toward the soft side up front, carbonation is noticeable, but no bite. Pine and citrus shows up in the middle with back of the toungue bitterness showing up early. Bitter in the finish, but fading quicker than most West Coast IPAs. Medium mouthfeel.

I can certainly see why this is about as perfect a session IPA as you can get. Definitely West Coast, but not over-the-top like many. Very drinkable, particularly with the low ABV. Not to worry, as the balance and flavor make up for the low alcohol.

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Photo of DrMattyB
4.89/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a light amber/dark yellow with a hint of orange. Slightly hazy (surprising for a Stone beer), but as a homebrewer, I love it. The head, however, is super thin and dissipates quickly.

S: You can smell the hops in this one as soon as the cap is popped (probably from across the room). Wonderful bouquet of American hops is featured here. Citrus, lemongrass, and a little pine.

T: Bitter bite at the front, gives way to a little light malt sweetness in the middle and leaves you with the great taste of grapefruit hops at the end. Sort of makes me think of a "session" celebration ale (which is the upmost compliment).

MF: Just about right. Light carbonation against the roof of the mouth, but still there. Nice velvety middle and ends dry as any IPA should.

D: "Please sir, may I have another?" I am all for Stone packing this one up in a six pack so that this can be my go to studying beer. (There's a point when too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing)

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.85/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked up this 12oz bottle for $3.50 in Columbus, finally thinking I've found the collaboration I've been waiting for, one that focuses on hops instead of spices. After bringing it home I realized the name is "San Diego County Session Ale", which I understand as it's a low ABV beer with neoclassic San Diego hops treatments. But on another level it doesn't make sense as I believe a session ale should be more affordable, as it will be consumed in large quantities...

To start with it looks and smells incredibly good. Hazy dark golden color, thick wet white foam and gorgeous lacing all over the glass. Citrus hops take over the aroma, no malt balance at all. This smells like an Alpine Duet, maybe one of several Ballast Point beers too, so much west coast hoppiness. I'd guess Citra and Amarillo, but almost certainly there are others too.

And what you smell is what you taste, the hops really are the whole story. No malt balance which is OK by me, and I guess it was no problem keeping the malt bill weak in order to achieve a low ABV. Still, it must take some skill to put together such beautiful looking beer with such delicious qualities and keep it low. Tropical and citrusy fruits, well done. Funny, it's not a stretch to call this abrasively hoppy, you can feel a little stomache burn even in this low ABV ale.

Thin bodied, easy pounding, everything I could want, except at a price point that guarantees I won't buy too many.

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Photo of engagechad
4.84/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had this beer on draft at the Saison du BUFF tasting at capital ale house in Richmond, Va on 1-6-11.

A - Kind of a murky yellow but still pretty

S - amazingly fruity and fresh

T - very smooth. perfect definition of what a session would be in my opinion

M - medium, not thick but not thin

D - I could literally drink this all night, possibly my favorite of the night.

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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 JizackFH
4.73/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Beautiful color, looks like it is going to go down really smooth. not too much head on this beer. You can see through it pretty well but the color is like no other low alcohol beer i have seen before. I thought it would be a much light color.

S - Smells great. Very hoppy, which i love, and a little bit of a fruit scent.

T - I think i may have found my new go to beer. This stuff tastes awesome. I never would have thought that this would be so hoppy. The low ABV is a bit of a back draw but who cares with such a great taste. Grapefruit hops, a little piney. Not watery at all, which is what i was afraid of with it being only 4.2% alcohol.

M - Pretty light but it coats the mouth nicely. i was worries it would be too light but it isn't at all

D - I could honestly drink this beer all day long. It goes down really really smooth, but has a great hop flavor. I don't seem to run into too many beer like this very often.

So this beer is just great. I was very skeptical after buying this beer that it was going to be very light, but as it turns out I am super glad i bought this. I just keep wanting more. I hope I keep seeing these in stores. they are just perfect for an anytime beer. Once again, thank you Stone.

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Photo of cdizinno
4.72/5  rDev +18.3%
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.

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Photo of berebrando
4.7/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light orange and yellow. Pours with a thick white head that slowly dissipates. I love the smell - fruit, sweet fruit, like tangerines and various other sweet, not sour, citrus. As it warms, I get more hops and pine. The taste is the best - it's soft, balanced and has a dry, bitter finish. Taste is dominated by a combination of citrus and pine. It feels good in my mouth. Drinkability has to be superior, as this is a high quality, tasteful session beer - you could drink it all night and live to die another day.

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Photo of sdsurfer217
4.67/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance: Copper in color, very clear. Small amount of white head. Looks inviting.

Smell: Lots of hop smells, pine, floral. Little bit of roasted character. Also some citrus zest. I smell a hint of pineapple in there.

Taste: Plenty of hops initially, pine, with a bitter aftertaste. Pineapple/tropical fruit taste is stronger than in the aroma

Mouthfeel: Coats the mouth nicely and goes down smooth.

Drinkability: Easy to drink for anyone who likes hops. Very balanced beer makes it easy to drink.

Great beer and would love to have many more, but for the price it's a little steep to make it a "session" beer for me.

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Photo of whiskeysoda
4.67/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am going to forgo the formal A/S/T/(M) protocol for this beer.

Why? Because it is beautifully simple. Every character of a crisp, floral, refreshing IPA that finishes with a dry and piny tip of its proverbial hat. It accentuates the hop component of the beer without being resinous or abrasive. As my friends who don't normally drink IPAs messaged me minutes after I gave them a bottle, "Ooh! It tastes just like pot! But without the burning! :cD"

As hoppy as a double, but with the body of a (light) munich pilsner, I could literally savor this all day.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed a couple pints of this last night at Lord Hobo in Cambridge. I am happy that this beer turns out to be my 1,000th review. Stone is one of my favorite brewers and this style is something that I am seeking. Highly hopped APA's with lower ABV... This is in the category with Half Acre Daisy Cutter for me. Both great beers.

The first thing I am going to mention is that this beer will visually get a 5 in my book. It's the perfect looking beer. The head, color and incredible lacing were all just perfect.
1 ½- 2 fingers of creamy white head sit atop a light orange amber colored beer with a sunset type brightness to the color. The lacing was absolutely perfect and provided a map of rings as to my journey through the glass. My wife was laughing at me as I showed her how perfect it was. Yep, I'm a beer geek.

Aroma was bright and fresh. Mostly citrus notes and very floral. Just awesome. A beer you sit and smell for a couple minutes before even taking a sip.

So, how do we convince Stone to make this beer available all year-round?
Floral Citrus flavors explode in your mouth with a perfectly balanced cracker, bready malt flavor. Definitely hop focused, but there is just such a give and take here that works perfectly. Just fantastic.

Crisp refreshing mouth feel and an overall sense of freshness. Medium bodied and both dry and oily if that can happen.

Just a joy to drink. I'd consider placing a tap in my home for this. Right up there with Daisy Cutter as a great beer dancing on the line between APA & IPA

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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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Photo of slayer3604
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW! So I tried this a couple weeks back but never reviewed it. This was my second swing at it, and it was a bottle with Mitch Steele's writeup on it. Fantastic back story as well.

A- Pours a churning mass of bubbles, with some tight retention for about three minutes. It then died down to about a fingernail's breadth and there it stayed. The body is hazy pale gold. Lookin good.

S- Lavish pine, some resin, sticky icky, and a hint of tropics! NICE!

T- I would never have guessed that this beer was a "Session" ale until the finish! Huge amounts of flavor with a tight crispness that lasts the entirety of the swig, and even afterwards with lingering bitterness.

M- FOR A FREAKIN SESSION BEER this has a nice firm mouthfeel that leads off to a clean crisp finish. Honestly the best low alcohol beer I've ever had. Just my opinion.

D- I could drink this for days. My subconscious keeps warning me that I'll get slammed off of a bottle of this, but my heart says "drink up, bitch".

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

A light touch of orange with yellow around the edges makes up the this very pretty looking beer. It looks like a bitter bomb str8 out the gate. A hard pour yielded about a 1/2 inch of semi firm white stuff that settled into a cap. Nice spots on the glass.

Wow, San Diego never smelled as good as this one (i'll admit, never been to the west coast) The smell burst out with hops and alot of em. Bitter hop scents with a bunch of pine and citrus including lemon and the other usual suspects. The malt, well it hardly makes a dent, wonderful scent. Excellent!

From the nose, I knew this would be a treat. Im greeted by a dousing of hops, hops overload, they really cramed them in here. Citrus and pine up front, they really run neck and neck. In short, grapefruit, mango, pine, lemon and some malts again barely make a dent. Hop forward.

Feel is bitter, but not a palate crusher, it's no hopsickle in other words, but boy is it bitter. Light bodied with a very nice amount of carb to keep the aliveness going. While big, the bitterness does not stick around the mouth forever like the certain moyland product mentioned above.

I am really into session beers and I think I found one of my favorites, since recently turning into a semi hop head (i hate using that term) this fills both of my needs. Flavorful and not dangerous. If one of these breweries does not take this recipe and run with it, it would be a travesty to the beer world. Please Stone or Ballast Point (both who distribute to PA), please run with this one in the future.

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Photo of BeerTwigs
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A nice orange gold with a thin white pacing

Smell: The aroma packs a lot of bunch with a citrusy and piney burst of hops...

Taste: This is a very hoppy pale ale with a good malt balance. This beer is very delightful and packs a lot of flavor with a low abv.

Mouthfeel: Light, spot on for a session ale, smooth and a great aftertaste.

Overall: This is a really nice session beer which allows you to enjoy a hoppy pale ale without all alcohol to knock you out. I would definitely drink this beer all summer.

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Photo of crusian
4.54/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle from liquormax in colorado.
had the ska equinox tonight, and this says it is also an apa.
pours a golden shower of pent up urine color. not bad. smells amazing though. VERY reminiscent of the saison de buff hops and "clean" "green" nose. very nice.
taste is very clean tasting. the hops are present, but no overwhelming. It is nice to see an actual session beer that is good. like gumball head, this is trying to buck the trend of good beers need to be bigger and higher abv... and with the number of higher abv beers out there that ARE good compared to those that are lower abv and suck... this is nice and refreshing. good job.

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Photo of portia99
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A - Pours a crystal clear pale golden color. Orangey highlights complete the color palette. A finger of short lasting white foam dies to a thick collar with some sticky lacing that clings to the glass all the way thru this one.

S - Wow...huge fresh grapefruit aroma leaps from the glass. Slight medicinal aroma creeps in along with some grassy hop aromas. Only the slightest hint of biscuity malt but the hops dominate this completely.

T - In a word - hoppy! There is an intense bitterness up front that is the first thing that I notice. Surrounding this bitterness are fresh grapefruit and resiny pine. Extremely mild sweetness derived from the malt. Not especially complex - this is all about the hops.

M - Light/medium bodied with a crisp medium/high carbonation level. Very tingly with a bit of a bite on the tongue. Resiny and sticky hops hit every corner of the mouth. Citrus and hop bitterness linger forever after the swallow.

D - This is a pretty impressive hoppy APA. Is this the direction that pale ales are gonna go in the future? Makes me think back to the first time I tried SNPA in the early 90's and falling in love with the west coast hoppy beers. Times change and SNPA doesn't seem that hoppy anymore compared to other beers out there. Right now, this is as intense, bitter and hop flavorful a pale ale as there is out there. The fact that this beer manages to pack all this flavor into a 4.2% session beer is amazing. I'd be tempted to buy cases of this (if I could find that much!) and put it away, but time is going to be an enemy of this one, I'm afraid. Guess I'll settle for having the last couple of these I picked up very quickly and be happy...and hope that somehow this can become a regular offering.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.51/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

appearance: golden maber color. poor head and no lacing. lager like

smell: huge hop aroma

taste: wow... all hops and no malt backbone. But it taste great. I imagine this beer would not age well. great fresh, Piney, earthy hops

mouthfeel: light bodied

drinkability: I could definitly drink these all night.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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Photo of chumba526
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears full-bodied orange with a fairly large off white head.

It smells of pine like hops. I get a bit of a citrus orange like smell. There is also a bit of grassy hop smell. There is a mild caramel malt flavor as well but hops dominate the smell.

It tastes initially of mild citrus malts. I get a nice orange and lemon like flavor. There is also a mild pine like hop flavor and a grassy type of a hop flavor. There is a nice fruity flavor as well. There is a smooth malt backbone. The malt is mild nutty and is just a tad sweet. The beer ends with a smooth hoppy bitterness that lingers on the palate for a little while.

The carbonation is medium. There is a crisp mouthfeel to the beer.

The drinkability is great. It goes down very smooth. I could drink a few of these easy.

Overall a great hoppy low alcohol beer that is exciting and adventurous. I wish this would become a full time beer offered in six packs.

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Photo of brewski09
4.49/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle in pint glass.

A. The beer poured clear with little bits of what appear to be hops in it (similar to when I didn't strain out all of my whole leaf hops and got some of the bits in the bottles). the head pours about 3/4 of an inch thick and is a little yellow to me. The beer overall has a yellow tint to it. Lacing starts to develop immediately and the head sticks around at about 1/4 of an inch throughout the beer.

S. Wow! This beer was very hop forward and much, much more than I ever expected from a session ale. I think the hops were mainly centennial, but there were definitely a few there. This smells very much like the stone IPA, but just a little bit milder. The beer does not smell of much else but the hops. There is a hint of malty aroma and no alcohol aroma (to be expected at 4.2%)

T. The taste was phenomenal and more than could have been expected. Stone has really pushed the limits of what a session ale can be with this partnership. I was surprised that this was so close in profile to the Stone IPA, but happy with it. The hops are not too bitter and are balanced out nicely with malty sugars. This one kinda went down a little like candy, but that's mostly the hop flavors for me backed up by a tiny bit of sugars.

M. The mouthfeel was a little thin, but that just allowed it to go down more quickly. it was not dry or astringent on the palate.

D. Hops, sugars, deliciousness. How can you go wrong on this one. Even though its more expensive than the Stone IPA, it is worth it if you want to have more than one or two as it is milder in alcohol and easy to drink without getting too drunk. I wish I had more of this to drink right now. If you want to be blown away by a session ale, grab a six pack, relax, and enjoy. You will love this even if you are a hardcore hophead I think.

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Photo of dborginis
4.48/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! $4 for a session beer at Whole Foods. Based on the breweries involved this should be interesting.

Pours a turbid gold with a good amount of head. Only smell is of aroma hops. Beer is somewhat one dimensional in that the main thing I taste is hops bitterness, but it has a very interesting hop profile...a very interesting lineup of hops. Very dry, but being low ABV and probably low calorie, I can understand it. I would say that for such a low ABV and calorie beer, that this is exceptional. Stone's Levitation can only hope to be this beer..and maybe soon it could be if they incorporate this into their recipe!

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.48/5  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.

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Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing
3.99 out of 5 based on 376 ratings.
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