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

Appearance - Pours a crystal clear golden color into my SA perfect pint. About a finger of white, quickly dissipating head is achieved with a moderate pour, that leaves decent lacing.

Smell - An enticing aroma, if I say so myself. An immediate hit of pint, juicy citrus (grapefruit, slight pineapple and orange), and a hop/pine aroma that reminds me quite a bit of Alpine's Nelson. Overall, very impressed with the nose on this. It really does just emanate from the glass.

Taste - Similar to the nose, though not as much in citrus flavor as expected. However, again, the flavor reminds me of Nelson. Resiny pine, a hefty dose of hops, slight grapefruit, and a hint of peppery spices. Not much of a malty backbone, however, it is still damn balanced in my opinion. Pretty impressed with this, seeing as normally, in my opinion, these collaborations are not the best and overly expensive.

Mouthfeel - Medium to lighter bodied, nice crisp carbonation that prickles the tongue, bitter, dry finish.

Drinkability - Damn drinkable. For three dollars a pop (granted the ABV is lower than normal for most of these collaborations), I picked up two and already went through both within two days. I will be picking up more of these fresh - this is a highly quaffable and enjoyable beer. Glad Stone, Ballast Point, and McNair got this right. If this was served in pitchers by me I'd order one for myself. As bill said, if this was available year round I would defiantly pick this sucker up as my go-to beer.

 1,498 characters

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

Thanks to freud for throwing this one in as an extra in a trade.
Poured in to pint glass

A - Slightly cloudy yellow colour with small amount of bubbly white head.

S - Crisp citrus and earthy bitter hops up front with a slight malt backbone. Nice hop nose for 4.2% ABV. Doesn't smell like a typical session beer.

T - Follows the nose - full of bitter hops with predominantly citrus notes and some pine as well. Very faint malt presence. As odd as it sounds to say this about a session beer - this is a true hop bomb!

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation.

D - This is by far the best 4.2% ABV beer that I have ever had. I would buy this all the time if it were available to me. A great concept that I hope catches on.

 726 characters

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!

 360 characters

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

Classified as an IPA on the bottle, APA on beeradvocate

A: Pours a mostly transparent, partly hop-hazed pale gold color with a small white cap. Retention is pretty good.

S: Lots of piny and resinous hops, along with a mellow pale malt accent. The hops really dominate the nose, and really give a nice floral note. Seems like a subdued version of a West Coast style IPA.

T: Probably the most flavorful beer I've tasted under 5%. I really like this one. Bitter resinous hops in the flavor, but it doesn't have the stickiness from the alcohol, and you can really throw these back. Light pale malt backing, but for the most part, the hops are pretty damn intense.

MF/D: Medium carbonation, slightly prickly feel, awesome resinous hop finish. Drinkability is awesome due to the amount of flavor and the lack of alcohol.

Notes: I usually don't care for resinous IPAs, but this one is awesome. So much flavor and so little alcohol. New favorite session beer for sure.

 966 characters

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

Wow... I really had no clue what to expect from this beer other than it was a $4 bottle of beer at the local store. I figured it had to be good based on the collaboration and the price so it was worth a try.

It pours a copper/amber color with a nice medium density white head. Not much lacing that I noticed.

I get a lot of citrus hops both in the nose and the taste. Very enjoyable. It has some characteristics of bigger IPAs but somehow manages to be only 4.2% ABV. A lot more flavor than I expected. Very nice.

This is a highly drinkable beer. I wish it came in 12 packs and cost a lot less, it could be a regular in our home.

 634 characters

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

A- Hazy amber-tinted gold with a fluffy white head that lasts and leaves good lacing.

N- Dark, earthy hops meld with fresh caramel. Some soft resin underneath and subtle citrusy hops on top.

T- Smooth caramel malt loaded with earthy hops and accented by citrus. Dark hop resin creates a firm but gentle bitterness, and there is also a dry leafy hop character that tastes sort of woody. Finishes with citrus rind and a pleasant lingering grassy/leafy/woody hop bitterness.

M- Light, but sticky with hop oils. Smooth, cask-like carbonation with a beautifully dry finish.

D- Amazingly flavorful for how drinkable it is. Nicely done.

 634 characters

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!

 620 characters

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.

 603 characters

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

Poured into a nonic.

Hard and fast pour yields about three fingers worth of fluffy off white head. The body is a semi-pale golden color and exhibits exceptional clarity. Head dies down to a half a finger cap of foam on top. Chunks of lacing left behind, and retention last throughout.

The nose on this is very nice. Citrusy grapefruit and orange rind hops with a beady note to balance out the hops.

The taste is full of resinous bitter hoppy goodness. I get orange rind, a tad bit of grapefruit, some pine, and spicy tobacco. The hop onslaught is accompanied with a touch of bread flavor. Bitter pine and resin linger.

The mouthfeel is light, well carbonated, and crisp with a bitter and dry finish.

This is very drinkable. A truly stand out beer IMO. It packs a hop punch that is akin to Stone IPA or even, dare I say, Ruination which is pretty awesome for its alcohol content. A hop head's dream session beer. This would easily be my fallback if it was available year round.

 981 characters

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

A: Poured a glowing orange color with good carbonationa nd a nice white head, plenty of bubbles

S: Citrus, grass, much like the Lost Continent IIPAs

T: Grass, citrus and hints of floral at times. Really good

M: Nice carbonation, light booze sting and some subtle, bitter hops

D: Very good. Lots of taste for such a low ABV beer. Exceptional.

 345 characters

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.

 1,821 characters

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.

 456 characters

Photo of Elfastball7
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of GClarkage
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

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.

 920 characters

Photo of Bill235
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

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.

 309 characters

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.

 1,777 characters

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.

 637 characters

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.

 521 characters

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.

 1,592 characters

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.

 529 characters

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".

 987 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.