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

very good
376 Ratings
no score
Send samples
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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 376 |  Reviews: 270
Photo of jeffjeff1
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at work the other day.

Appearance- amber color, nice foamy head

Smell- hoppy aroma, very nice

Taste- hoppy flavor, very nice and refreshing

Mouthfeel- medium bodied

Drinkability- very good, I loved it. I definitely need to get more of it.

 260 characters

Photo of SuperNova777
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanx to BabyCatPrince for this

A:Pours a hazy orange with a very nice head leaving good lacing hanging around

S:Nice dose a hops come thru citrus and pine, way better than I expected to come out of it with the low ABV

T:Lots of hops coming thru up front with slight malt in the middle then another blast of hops on the backend that linger around

M:Nice solid mouthfeel with good carb. sticky hop resin hangs around on the palate long after drink

D:I could drink this all day and night, super huge flavor for a session brew with hops that just don't quit. This collaboration hit the nail on the head with this brew

 619 characters

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.

 349 characters

Photo of cbutova
4.44/5  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).

 1,077 characters

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a golden orange with a white sticky head that leaves behind beautiful lacing. Very clear with visible carbonation.

S: A strong nose of bitter hops, sweet citrus, and a hint of malt.

T: Upfront flavors of grapefruit & piney hops, followed by a little pepper and sweet malts, and finishes with bittering hops. Very well balanced.

M: High carbonation, medium body, thin texture.

D: I really enjoyed this beer. Could drink quite a few of these no problem. Great for the summer.

 486 characters

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.

 685 characters

Photo of Axic10
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a light golden with a finger of fluffy white foam.

Smell: Very heavy on floral hops and sweet citrusy fruits. Picking up some grapefruit as well as sweet mango/pineapple. This just smells really "clean".

Taste: Is this really a 4.2% APA?!?! This is a flavorful beer that I would have pegged at around 7% or so based on flavor alone. Bitter, piney hops, grapefruit and some bready malt. Very nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, crisp and clean.

Drinkability: An enjoyable beer from these three collaborators. If this was a year round offering and was available in a six pack (and cheaper) I would probably always have this in my fridge. I have two more bottles that I look forward to dirnking.

 775 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

 461 characters

Photo of billab914
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 Stone nonic pint glass. It poured a light gold, almost amber in color with a thin yet frothy white head to it. It had some nice head retention as I drank it and also left moderate lacing on the glass.

The aroma has a big hoppiness to it. I can definitely pick out the juicy and tropical punch like citra hops coming through. I love the peachy, pineapple like flavors these hops give beers. Another of my favorites, amarillo adds some nice juicy hoppiness of it's own as well. A little bit of grapefruit and pine bitterness comes through in all the hoppiness as well. Excellent hoppy aroma and extremely impressive given the low alcohol content.

The taste follows the nose with some peach and pineapple, juicy citra hops coming through. More of a grapefruit bitterness comes through towards the finish. Excellent hoppy flavors to it overall and all the hoppiness came together very well.

The mouthfeel is light and carbonation is moderate. Drinkability is very good, it had some great hoppy flavors to it and was a very easy drinking beer. It helped that they used my favorite hop varieties as well. The fact that this is a lower alcohol beer just increases the drinkability for me. This is a beer I'd gladly buy often in 6 packs if I could. Excellent beer overall and I really hope we see more beers like this soon.

 1,354 characters

Photo of Seanibus
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good God, what an amazing achievement - a robust hopmonster that comes in with a lower ABV than many a weak-spined Lite Beer.

Pours a hazy golden with a big, bubbly head. The aroma is remarkably hoppy - firm and citrusy, worthy of the Stone label. The flavor is sharp, bitter and hoppy, with a blast of citrus and some earth and pine. The main sign that you are drinking a lighter beer is the malt backbone, which is a little thin. But it does not feel terribly out of balance (slightly, but not excessively). I am not sure how I would react to a blind tasting, but knowing what I know, I am thoroughly impressed.

Overall, I would say there are better technical session beers (a good British pub bitters, for example), but this is the kind of session beer that the market has been waiting for - one that will appeal to the insatiable hop fiend, which is usually not where "session" lands.

 891 characters

Photo of ikats
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours golden in color, a bit hazy, with white, sticky head. Aroma is full of hops. Mostly grapefruit I guess. Maybe some pine and other citrus. No aroma notes coming from malt. I personally love hoppy aromas, so this one is for me. Clean, soft taste. Hops are quite evident in the aftertaste (quite a bite, but a pleasant one). Mouthfeel is very smooth. And it's light body. I would consider this beer a wonderful example of light, but full flavored beer.

I feel that US beer scene is lacking true session beers, and I am in constant search. I picked up a bottle of San Diego County purely based on name "Session". I am not disappointed. Excellent example of what I would consider a session beer (easy drinking at around 4%). Hoppy aftertaste may get a bit tiring toward the end of a session, but it's a minor complaint.

 822 characters

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A late night bottle split with sourbatchkid.

A- a stiff pour yields a killer three fingers of bright white sudsy head that settles slowly leaving a bunch of sticky lace and a thick ring with a few wisps on top. Crystal clear golden yellow orange in color. Nice looking stuff here.

S- geeewwwu that good yaqui! A shit ton of hops blast your nose. Loads of what I can only guess is citra from the cornucopia of citrus fruits. Malts don't make much of an impression just a touch of sweetness.

T- crisp bright bitter hops with ruby red grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, some tropical fruits as well but to a lesser extent. Malts are super low profile but what there is does just enough to bring a touch of sweetness and balance to the hops. Long bitter finish.

M- light body and a smooth yet crisp carb that keeps things even lighter on the palate. Super dry finish.

D- my god this is a fucking hoppy brew here and its only 4.2 abv. This is one that ill drink anytime I see it. Very impressed to say the least. One of the better brews I've had in awhile.

 1,057 characters

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.

 619 characters

Photo of silver0rlead
4.35/5  rDev +9%
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.

 872 characters

Photo of MwPack87
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains grassy hops, citrus and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with a strong burst of floral hops bitterness. The some mild sweetness comes in from flavors of citrus and caramel. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and creates a good balance. The after-taste is hoppy.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, very good representation of style, this is an excellent hoppy and poundable beer worth drinking for a long time.

 738 characters

Photo of ArrogantBastage
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a glass

A: Pours a bright amber with a thick head. Head lingered long enough to prep for the review and then diminished to a thin ring. A few islands of foam remained on top for a little while but those disappeared about half way through the session. A thin ring remained thru out. No lacing which surprised me considering the amount of hops used in this beer.

S: Pungent hops, loads of citrus up front tinged with some pithy aromas, herbal and spicy hops also hide in the background.

T: Follows the aroma almost perfectly. Loads of citrusy hops giving the beer a strong citrus peel flavor. Some spicy notes make an appearance as the beer warms slightly. A little sweet malt in there too. Not overly bitter as the strong hop aroma would make some expect.

M: Light bodied with a fair amount of carbonation.

D: Definitely possible to have more than one of these in the course of an evening. Highly recommended to people that love hop forward beers.

 981 characters

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.

 1,834 characters

Photo of alleykatking
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a nice coppery color. One finger tan head shows medium retention. Streaky lacing on the sides of the glass. This looks actually really good.

S- Citrusy hops galore cover a light caramel malt base in the front. Piney hops come into the back making this beer such a hop monster it is hard to believe it's a such a light weight of a beer ABV wise.

T- Hops and more hops explode onto the scene with the first sip. Orange peel and grapefruit are the first to be seen flavor wise. This dies for a second leaving behind a crackery malt base. Pine and earthy hops kick up the backend with light hints of citrus. The alcohol gets caught up in the tail end with the hops only then making it noticable.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation was good for the style. Citrus hops and light pine are left on the palate with a nice hoppy resin that coats everything it touches. Aftertaste is piney hops with a stronger hint of alcohol. There were no off flavors to this one. Balanced? For a session ale I would say no because of the hop forwardness of the beer.

D- I would have no problem drinking a sixer of this at all. My palate would be shot down after a couple of these though so I wouldn't want to waste the others on a shot palate. Damn good though for a session ale.

 1,295 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden yellow with a moderate white head. Smells of sweet, fresh hop cones and citrus elements. Very aromatic. Taste is hoppy, and more hoppy with a bitter pine resin finish. Wow, this is a good one! Mouthfeel is tingly from a fine carbonation and a bright bitter/dry hop back. Overall, a great sessionable Pale Ale and at $2.99 a bottle it's a steal. Enjoy it real cold on a hot day. So refreshing, I'll have another, please.

 440 characters

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear gold body beneath a white head.

Citrus and floral aromas burst from my glass.

The flavor is almost all hops, malt it barely detectable. Hoppy, but not very bitter. Grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon with floral notes on the finish. A true session ale, I would drink 4 or 5 if I could.

Did I just taste the future of beer? I always wondered what it would be like if a light beer was heavily hopped. Afterall, its the alcohol level that produces most of a beer's calories, not hops. Well, now I know and it is excellent.

Want to be a millionaire? Learn how to make a beer like this around 125 calories and under $9 a 6pk.

 628 characters

Photo of Liverpool08
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

 400 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

 872 characters

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.

 647 characters

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

Poured a a little cloudy, light copper color with an average to light head. Brought by a waitress so it may have sat a bit.

The nose is full of pine and citrus. Doesn't smell much like a pale ale.

The hops dominate in a real good way all the way through. There is a balancing malt sweetness about halfway through, then back to the piney hops. A really flavorful 4.2% session ale is a great accomplishment.

Its got a medium to light body with average carbonation.

This is a beer the hop heads should love, and at 4.2% you can indulge a little more. I will look for this one.

 577 characters

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

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.