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

Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session AleBallast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale
376 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 376 |  Reviews: 270
Photo of hpthebull
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of barnzy78
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

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 beergoot
3.54/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light honey-yellow body with a thin yet persistent white head. Clinging foam sticks to the glass sides.

Rich malt sweetness with hints of melon, pear, and and honey. The hops are spicy and pungent with good floral characteristics.

Light biscuit malt flavor that quickly gets trumped by hop bitterness.

Bright and vibrant mouthfeel, light-to-medium in body.

For a session ale, this has enough flair to know you're drinking a better than average beer. Its strong point seems to be in the aroma - very pleasant and inviting. The taste is nothing special but decent enough. Worth a taste...

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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 Beejay
3.55/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My 400th Review!

A: Slightly hazy with a bright orange amber color. Nice white creamy head.

S: Aggressive American hops come stright out. Huge grapefruit, as well as some pine and grassy notes. Perhaps just a little bit of tropical fruit as well.

T: Bitterness comes out right away, grapefruit, citrus and a bit of pine. I think the hops overpower the malt so much that it makes it taste a little on the watery side.

M: Very light in body, carbonation is on the fairly high side. Though it does seem to coat your mouth after you have swallowed.

D: Over all this is pretty good. Though I think it is a little too hop forward, which makes it seem watery. It seems pretty basic for the price. If this was a bit cheaper, it would be a great session ale. At this price drinking any large quantity would quickly become it's downfall.

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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 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 MrMcGibblets
3.59/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: cloudy deep golden orange. Nice lasting creamy head and lacing.
S: powerful hop aroma esp for this abv, but the hops are too oniony garlicky and earthy for me. Some doughy malts.
T:lightly sweet malts are nicely balanced a smooth hop bitterness. Earthy funky hops.
M: big for this abv. Light to med bodied. Frothy and creamy.
O: this would be awesome with a different hop bill. Simcoe hops? Not sure but the hop aromas and oniony garlicky hop flavors brought it down for me.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lightly hazy yellow to orange-ish color with an off white head. In the aroma, gingerbread like malt and an sweet orange citrus hop. In the taste, gingerbread like malt and a small orange citrus sweetness. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry gingerbread malt and just a note of orange citrus. English like maltiness with west coast hops, a weird mix for sure.

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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 mjaskula
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass. The beer pours clear golden with a bit of sediment haze. The head is moderately thick with a soapy white head that thins to a film and leaves some thin lacing.

Immediately upon popping the cap you can smell the floral hops. The aroma is very strong and entirely hops. The flavor is almost all bitter hops. The bitterness stays in your mouth a little to long. There's a little bit of malt breadyness, but not much of a balance.

The mouthfeel is thin and carbonation is high. Does well as a session beer, but would like a little more balance.

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Photo of jjh19
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Golden straw color
Smell: Very spicy nose. Huge smell.
Taste: Zing! - sharp bitterness, with a touch of sweetness.
Mouthfeel: A lot of hops. And more hops. And a sort of odd lingering off flavor finish.
Drinkability: Meh. This beer is fine if you're into really hopped beers. Me? I like a little more balance, especially in something called a "Session Ale."

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Photo of OlieIPA
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Stone tulip glass

A: Sports a deep gold body with a rocky, frothy, white head. An extremely cleared out beer as well, which gives an even more desirable appearance.

S: A nice mix of grassy and citrus hop aroma, with accent on the hops, not malt.

T: The flavor has a touch malt, with traces of wheat and caramel. The hop bitterness is attenuated by the low amount of malt sweetness, and tends to linger on the palate long after the sip.

M: Incredibly light on the palate with ample amounts of carbonation.

D: A good example of a "session-like" beer, but the over abundance of hops deterred me at times. Don't get me wrong, I'm a hophead at heart, but I wish there would have been a little more of a malt body or less bittering hops to balance it out.

Overall: One of the better collaborations to come out of the Stone Brewing Co. in recent years, but I found the disparity between the malt and hops too great at times. A try it beer. Cheers!

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass on-tap at Durty Nellie's in Palatine, IL

This pours a nice golden orange color with a frothy coarse white head. The aroma is of many varieties of noble hops, most likely Saaz and Magnum. If there is caramel malt in there it's well hidden. The flavor is harshly bitter in nature, knowing Stone, that was on purpose. The flavor is partially light caramel in nature, but mostly it's a crap-ton of hops. The mouthfeel is rather astringent in nature and the hoppy bitterness doesn't help that at all. It corrodes the mouth and that's not a beer I care for too often. This is a drinkable beer if you can get past the strong bitterness in flavor. It's an interesting session beer if I do say so, but not one I'd readily go for again.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased this at Oak Tree Buy Rite, S. Plainfield, NJ. Into a stemmed Stone glass, it poured a transparent golden-orange, with decent visible carbonation, two fingers of white, and great retention and lacing. The aroma was dominated by bitterness and a huge potpourri of garden herbs, including rosemary and parseley. The taste was VERY grassy, herbal at first, punctuated with a very dry bitter finish that lingered, creating dry-mouth. Thin, and surprisingly less carbonation than expected, given the appearance, but very smooth when sipped with a very well-retained head. Way too grassy/earthy for me to session, but if that's your thing, go for it.

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Photo of Zorro
3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear orange-amber colored ale with a small white colored head.

Smell is strongly of c type hops with a strong bitter orange aroma. Grapefruit, onion, mango and pineapple. Smells like a hop bomb.

Starts out dry and earthy. Becomes spicy and bitter with that same earthy flavor. Not a lot of subtle flavor here, just extremely bitter and earthy.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkability is just OK. On the far side of the drinkability zone.

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Photo of tdawgydog
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I always look forward to giving the Stone Collab brews a try. Not the best Stone Collab I've had but pretty good none the less.

A - Pours a nice cloudy yellow with a representable head that survives the life of the beer.

S - The smell of evergreen hops in the bottle, mostly dissipates once the beer is poured. More of a malty scent once in the glass.

T - A little more of bitter bite than I like from my APA but the strong hop character that one should expect doesn't seem to be there.

D - Has a taste well beyond it's 4% ABV. The complexity of the style would leave you to believe that it has more alcohol than that.

M - Well carbonated solid body.

I picked up two of these from my local beer store. I also picked up two bottles of Cali-Belgique which I am really looking forward to cracking open (my Fave Stone Brew!!)

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy gold with a compact white head.

S: Aromas of biscuits, lemon, grapefruit, and pine are present on the nose. This ale smells nice, but in a way that is entirely expected. Obviously, this ale is not going to surprise someone who is thoroughly familiar with this style.

T: Notes of biscuits, pine, spruce, lemon, grapefruit, lime, kumquat, and bitter orange wash across the palate. The finish is bitter, yet rather abrupt, with a deft balance of biscuit and tart citrus flavors.

M: As expected, this ale is dry and light-bodied. Carbonation is crisp, yet still remains somewhat expressive. This ale is as drinkable as American ales come.

O: In the end, this is a very nice session ale that displays an expert balance between dry, bready malt and resinous, fruity American hops. If you are expecting to be blown out of the water (and that is perfectly understandable given the level of talent of each of these collaborators), then you may be slightly disappointed. The brewers set out to create a true session ale with a ton of West Coast hop flavor, and they have done just that and nothing more.

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Photo of Klym
3.69/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Shared with Cavery.

A: Pours a translucent orange with a reasonable head for a pale ale.

S: This smells amazing for a pale ale. Citrus booms through this with a lovely, slight-hop pine character. Tons of tastey aroma.

T: Taste is honestly a let down. Initial taste is a nice citrus/resin/hop but it peaks quickly in a difficult-to-enjoy bitterness. Whats left is a weak, watery, mild hop and old citrus rind flavor that dies off in a few short moments. Transitions are kind of poor, but overall I'd still say it's above average.

M: Mouthfeel is a little watery and the carbonation in the mouth feels erratic.

O: I've actually had this once before, and I think my previous bottle was much better so maybe this bottle is a bit old. It's not a bad session ale and would be worth picking up if you see it, as it's a cheap bottle, but at the same time I wouldn't at all go out of my way to try this.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light amber orange with short, light white head that quickly fades.

Light pineapple "bitter" nose but more restrained than an IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied but nice carbonation and good balance; a bright quality to the mouth that's pleasing.

Flavors are very nice- bitter grapefruit, bold burnt toast and big yeasty biscuit character. Nothing shy about these flavors which makes this a pretty damn nice "session" beer which is generally not my style, in any event.

This one has a big bitter grapefruit finish that's appealing and pretty long lasting. Very decent. Not terribly complex or layered but big bitter, yeasty, toasty flavors and character.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served up a light amber color with a copper cast to it and a head that is just slightly off-white. The head has pretty nice staying power and leaves cement like lacing on the sides of the glass. This beer even looks hoppy.

The smell of this beer is very, very hoppy. Grapefruit, pine, citrus zest, dank cannabis, orange sections, you name it. If there is any malt in the aroma it is evident only as a sweetener for the hops.

Two words: hop juice. This thing is bursting with hop flavor. Pithy grapefruit, pine, mint, weed and even some medicinal notes. Much like the nose, the malt is obscured by the lupulin orgy that is going on in my mouth. Needless to say this beer is way unbalanced, but that was the point. The more I drink of this brew, less flavor it seems to have with the hops really tiring out my taste buds.

The body is on the lightest edge of medium and the finish is bone dry. This beer has a pretty decent amount of carbonation but is not overly lively. As you may guess the aftertaste is just laden with dank hops. These hop flavors do not seem to go away even when I try to cleanse my palate. Do not drink this beer first if you are going to be trying a few different beers.

This beer is supposed to be sessionable, and I guess to some extent it is, but you would have to be some kind of hop head to drink more than a couple of them. This is a pretty cool idea, and I love the balls out approach, but defiantly not the best formulated beer of all time.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance -- Pours a honey amber, mild haze, with one finger of stiff beige head.

Smell -- Lots of pine, earthy floral/vegetal, as well as grapefruit. Graininess is not very evident in the nose, but some caramel sweetness eeks out of the massive bouquet of hop aroma. Buttery diacetyl also present. Very aromatic, which I appreciate.

Taste -- Very bitter, very dry. An abundance of pine resin and orange pith - intensely bitter. Malt is husky and dry. The hop flavor fizzles out toward the finish and the overall flavor seems watered-down. Finish is all resin.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-light in body, moderate prickly carbonation, with an oily finish. Pretty much what you'd hope for in a hop-forward APA.

Drinkability -- It's good, but I wouldn't want to have a second. Hop blast, then watered-down pale ale. Glad I tried it, but it didn't meet all of my expectations.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dropped off at the outdoor patio table a lightly hazed, light pale copper body with a slim, white head.

Smell: Hoppy, citrusy aroma full of pith, peelings, and acidic, citric juices paired with a bit of pine. At least in the nose, this definitely suppresses and squashes the milder biscuity malts way, waaayy underneath.

Taste: Light pale malted barley with modest hints of biscuits and crisped, crackery grains and sweetness. Really, it's just enough to check off the 'malt' box on the to-do brewing list. Then, in comes blistering waves of citric, pithy grapefruit, tangerines, and resinous pine. Medium-plus bitterness. Bitterness holds strong until the firmly dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A light alcohol option for the hopheads, so your liver will be happier, but, it's a somewhat pricey product, so your wallet might get unhappy, even going so far as to un-friend you on Facebook.

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Photo of crvcac
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pretty standard.

Smell: Absolutely outstanding. Boasting hints of everything from pine to fruit to tropical esters.. this beer had it all. Does the bark match the bite? Lets see..

Taste: Upfront this beer has a very bitter hop bite for a west coast pale (seemingly intentional). For the most part it taste pretty damn good. However, towards the end of the sip the beer imparts a very undesirable off-flavored-bitterness that leaves the tongue a little ravished.

Mouthfeel: For the most part the beer is rather quaff-able. It had great carbonation.

Overall: Glad I tried this beer. Waited some time for it to come to fruition. All in all, I must say that the bitter aftertaste ruined it for me. If it's taste was able to impress me like its smell did, I'd regard this in the likes of Sculpin and Pliny. Maybe next time.

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