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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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 270 | Ratings: 376
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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Photo of biegaman
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This "session ale" is lighter than most lagers, but it somehow looks heavier. Its dense orange colour has a lot of shininess, but curiously no clarity; it's too thick to see through to the other side. Its head and bubbles are both loose but manage to tack on some lace.

The beer certainly doesn't smell any weaker than any Stone or other such bold southern Californian offerings. There's lots of hops, of course, and all the stinkiness that comes with them. There's a good deal of biscuity malty sweetness too, mind you, but the customary pine tips and flower petals are in full force as usual. Obviously no hops were spared.

San Diego County Session Ale tastes exactly as you'd imagine a lighter version of a typical Stone beer to taste: there's a firm and ample biscuity malting, lots of pine and floral flavours from a liberal hopping and a good deal of lemon-y acidity to severe the two. Good on them for only lightening the alcohol, and not selling the hop or flavour character short.

The brewers went with plenty of aroma hops but not too many kettle hops. It has bitterness, but it's mellow and fruity, like a lightly-steeped orange blossom tea. No surprise they got that part right, but they should have paid more attention to carbonation; less bubbles - as in a cask - would have been better (cue CAMRA's entrance music). This is too prickly.

I was curious to know how these two breweries - especially Stone who's notorious for their machismo, staunchly aggressive brands - would fair with a lighter recipe and, truth be told, they did quite well. That said, a zebra can't change his stripes - this doesn't compete with England's session ales any better than England's IPAs can compete with Californian ones...

Don't get me wrong - a fixation on the “extreme” has left a generation of U.S. brewers to neglect the appeal of mild, low gravity beers and I couldn't be happier Stone highlighted that fact with the release of this well crafted ale. But for whatever it's worth, I think they're better off sticking with what they're good at. After all, just as anywhere is walking distance if you have the time, any beer can be sessionable if you have the tolerance!

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Photo of 100floods
3.72/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

wow! Stone making a low Alc. beer. While not impossible, I just thought I would be drinking one anytime soon. I guess that's what happens when you collaborate.

Pours a hazy pale honey hue with plenty of carbonation to view. After it's settled it appears to look more like a hazy sparklin cider.

Fresh and citrus aromas immediately come to mind. some grain and malt come forward after some hard searching too. It's very subtle, but comes through.

The grain and malt come through strong in the taste. I'm sensing some black pepper in there, too. Not really hoppy, which in this case is good. It's kind of spiced like a belgian pale or saison with more malt, but not a thick or yeasty in its texture. Although the bottle claims what should be a high caliber hop bill, I'm definitely not tasting their presence as much as I'd like. They definitely come through, but as this light lemon-grass-ish thing that I taste once in a while. I have a feeling Stone was really holding back in this one. This beer still has some kick for being so small.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ the Three Penny Taproom (Montpelier, VT) on 9/25/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear copper, with a finger of tight looking bright-white foamy head. This retains with a frothy richness that covers the sides of the glass with some rather robust lacing. This was a good look to it. The aroma is floral in the nose, with notes of sweet citrus and toasted malts. Some notes of pine and spice work themselves into the mix as well but this just seems to be a little too light at times. I was definitely looking for a touch more power to the flavors, especially considering how the taste comes off.

The taste is fairly aggressive with West Coast attitude, with a hoppy punch of bitter rind; green citrus, spice, and a heady dose of pine all laying it on thick in the mouth. There is some sweet toasted graininess across the back of the palate that seems to be placed right were it needs to be, balancing out the overt bitterness here while still allowing those hops to shine brightly. Pine and spice hang fairly hard on the tongue with a deep bitter dryness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a touch of lighter sharpness that prickles the mouth with all of those hops. There is some slickness to the body but the combo of the bitterness and that shaprness to the feel just keep this from feeling completely smooth in the mouth.

Is this beer San Diego? Absolutely! Is it sessionable? Eh, I'm not quite sure about that. Just a lot of bitterness here and while it was balanced and drinkable for the most part, I don't know if I could handle pint after pint of this. I could definitely see how others might see that differently though. I'm still glad that I got to try this one, as this latest Stone collaboration had slipped under my radar.

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

Poured a nice clear amber with an ample white head about two inches tall. This faded and left behind a ton of lace. Good visible carbonation.

Very hoppy, lots of very sweet citrus flavors. A touch of sugar and some malted grains in the backend of it. Very nice, and very hoppy. Had a very clean, cut taste. Not much of an aftertaste here, just straightforward hoppy pale ale. Nice grain fresh cut grass in the back. Silky smooth, albeit a little thin, but very smooth. Again very clean and refreshing, light. Very good. I coud easily session this one all night ling. It was just a nice light IPA, or pale ale.

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Photo of pburland23
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle.

I liked the concept of a eminently drinkable session ale. I often find myself buying beer and wishing I could find a well crafted beer that isn't an ABV bomb.

But, San Diego Session Ale falls short. The concept is good, the execution is mediocre. It's a pale golden amber with a nice amount of head. The smell is underwhelming. There is a trace of hops bitterness, but not much else. It was almost as if the beer was bereft of aroma.

The same thing can be said about the taste. It's a plain, Jane APA. Nothing too exciting. The mouthfeel is nice. It's light and enjoyable. And, of course the drinkability is sky high. I'd love to drink a beer like this, but in my opinion San Diego Session Ale just isn't tasty enough for me.

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

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

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Photo of cjacobsen
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

Poured a clear golden color with a white head that hung around for the whole glass of beer.

It smelled of hops and alcohol. Wasn't much going on.

It tasted good, smooth and cool. The hop flavors were distinguishable but I didn't feel it was a really malty beer at all. Nothing too complex.

The carbonation got at your tongue like a normal lager style bottled beer would.

As for being a Stone beer (granted a collaboration, but still) I kind of expected more. It's only 4.2% ABV and didn't have a stand alone character that I usually get from Stone. This is not a bad beer by any means, do not get me wrong. I did enjoy this brew, but as a fan of Stone and with their history being a bit more aggressive with their brewing, I just expected a little bit more.

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Photo of Khazadum
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed at my traditional Friday excursion to Lincoln Park Binny's. Figured I'd give it a shot.

A- Short rise of gigantic bubbles quickly dissipates to leave a similar collar. Very little residue, more like biofilm for a cap. Lemonhead amber liquid, Many individual bubble streams. The collar fakes a moderate amount of lacing.

S- Large amount of aromatics here! Strongly grapefruit in character, citrus of oranges and lemons behind that, notebook paper, and minute hops profile.

T- The grapefruit is a tease. It gives me the Sistine chapel touch before the hops dominate. A huge kick in the teeth of pine resin pretty much takes over and dominates even into the finish after the sweet fiction of a start. Very duo chromatic nature here.

M- Refreshing, almost thin, moderate body. Many places of residue. Lips and all surrounding tissues, cheeks, soft and hard palate, teeth. The hops just cling every where the little buggers can find.

D- Delicious and enjoyable to drink. I prefer to smell it to be honest, but that won't last forever. The hops become distracting towards the middle, but it is no where near the annoyance of a hop bomb. As expected, the alcohol is not a problem. I'd tick it again, but I wouldn't order it when I was in the mood for an APA.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the beers I grabbed today in Breckenridge.

Pouring a crystal clear amber with a dense off-white head with excellent retention and nice lacing, this beer looks very good. The nose is just outrageously hoppy. I heard that they tried to hop the hell out of this one, and it shows. A tropical fruit salad, there's mango, papaya, pineapple and a very sharp grassy pine character. Malt character is, as expected, non-existent. Moderately reminiscent of Sculpin, this is excellent stuff.

The palate opens bruising bitter with a massive, sharp, pine character. Surprisingly, there isn't much pine resin, and that makes the bitterness that much more taxing. Most of the dry hop character, while present, is rather washed out by the hop bitterness. Malt is not really noticeable here either. Bitter and drying on the finish with some pine resin (not enough, IMO), this beer is light in body and is carbonated a little too high for my liking. With a bruising finish, this beer is too bitter (and too expensive) to be a true session beer. I'm glad I got to try it, though, it really does have an excellent aroma.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.79/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Saw this bottle on the shelf and actually thought I was getting the other collaboration brew, Saison du BUFF (actually rang up as that). Very surprised, and excited, to see that it's a low ABV session ale! Let's get to it.

Pours a fair orange with a finger-width creamy off-white head on top. Retention is decent; leaves some light lace behind. The nose on this beer is absolutely stellar! Big floral notes, lots of citrus with tangerine and grapefruit; big piney smack on the finish. Really standout. I could smell this all day.

The body is fairly light, which is expected as this is meant to be a session ale. Carbonation level is a little on the high side, but smooths out on the back end. Definitely a bitter beer. The hops come forward full force, with definite Cascade in the front. The finish is a bit spicy and grating. As a session ale, this could be tamed for me to want multiples of this beer. I like the low ABV though. Glad I got this beer "on accident." Recommend.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Inflatablechair pulled this one out recently... Awesome hoppiness Sam!!

Pours with an off white head... good retention.. hop hazed dark golden.

Aroma shows everything that we love about California hop forward brews... bright fruity... citrus zest.. Meyer lemon.. malts are nonexistent.. and that is okay by me.... I swear it is balanced.

Flavor is off the charts SoCal.... pungent citrus zest... tangerine?? pale malts are barely present.. underripe melon.. with lime on the finish... I love a lot of a good thing, and this is no exception... but This brew is a punishing lesson in excess, that I like.

Think.. "Sculpin Lite"... Fruity Hops... really no malts to speak of... long citrus finish.

I want these in Boise soooo badly... I love a good IPA or PNW Pale, but the hops are a bulldozer on this one.


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Photo of Rifugium
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Definitely gets points for complexity. Pours a nice copper color with a white head. The nose is strong with pine notes and undertones of grapefruit and meadow grass. As far as taste goes, this genuinely has 3 distinct phases. Starts off VERY hoppy, but crisp, clean, and grassy. Moves on to a sweeter taste, a little bit watery, but not in a bad way, just in a clean soda-watery way, as opposed to syrupy sweet. Fresca-ish. Finishes off bitter with more hops, and leaves a slightly stale aftertaste of a piney IPA. Medium mouthfeel. An interesting drink that I'd like to try again, but probably won't since it was only brewed once.

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Photo of charlzm
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed September 5th, 2010.

Pours a clear, fairly deep and unaccented yellow. Nice white head.

Cascade hop nose - citrus and pine.

Carbonation bite results in a sharp flavor on the tongue. Peaches and apricots in the flavor, minimal malt profile, swift, clean finish with a bit of dryness. Lingering moderate bitterness.

Unremarkable but well put-together. A touch too hoppy for me personally, at least without some malt presence to balance.

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Photo of stakem
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a shaped pint glass. This brew appears a light copper color with some tiny particulate floating in suspension despite a careful pour. Slightly more than 2 fingers worth of fluffy off-white head that is composed of rather large bubbles forms and slowly fades. As the cap recedes it leaves a webbing of lace clinging to the glass.

The aroma of this brew is primarily citrus-like with a scent reminiscent of grapefruit rinds, pine, and citrus zest somewhat caught in between lemon and oranges. Lightly spiced indication as it warms. A swirl releases some faint grassy notes along with some light fruit scents minorly reminiscent of pear.

The taste of this brew includes a modest amount of hop bitterness right upfront tasting rind-like and clingy with oils. It fades into a toasted malt character that provides little to no residual sweetness to counter act the hoppy bite of bitterness. It leaves a lasting flavor of grass and slight sulfur notes inside the mouth long after each sip.

As expected, there is little to no indication of alcohol in this brew. Despite that, I would need to be left with little to no other options to want to drink another one of these. It is light bodied and moderately carbonated. Overall it wasn't bad, but it isn't something I would return to again if given the opportunity.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear golden-copper color. Nice slightly rocky white head has good retention and lacing.

Smell: Very nice hop aroma with pine and some florals. Big aroma, but the flavor isn't too strong - very nice.

Taste: Very bitter flavor (more than just pine), with some more floral hops peeking through. Bitter finish and aftertaste too.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a bit of grainyness and mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Alcohol-wise very drinkable; taste-wise not as much - but one bottle is fine.

Perhaps the best of the Stone collaborations I've tried to date. However, the really bitter taste is a bit much for a session beer like this. Hops flavors are great, but I just wish the flavor wasn't so skewed.

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Photo of BarrelO
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Light orange body. Big white head leaves lots of lacing.

S: Lots of citrus, pine, and tropical fruits. Very nice.

T: This is not so nice. Unrelenting bitterness that makes it hard to pick out any hop flavors. Lots of grassiness. Whatever malt character exists is completely drowned out by the hops.

M: Crisp and medium-bodied. Not sticky like other hop bombs.

D: It's not bad overall, but I don't really see the point. It's too over-the-top for a session beer, and it's too boring for anything else. Recommended for extreme hopheads only.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried 14 Mar 2011. Served in the Bright Brewing shaker pint.

Medium sized foamy parchment colored head. Well carbonated. Cloudy golden amber in color, some floaties. Aroma is sweet, orange and grapefruit. Pithy bitter to start, and throughout. Juicy grapefruit and citrus. Medium body, sticky mouthfeel. Ethanol is light. Bitter grapefruit finish is a bit dry.

Would be easy to have several of these in a row. Imagine that.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saw this one tap at one of my favorite places. The beer poured out as a hazy golden yellow color with some fizzy white head on top. The aroma of the beer was probably the best part of the beer, I found it to have a very floral aroma to it and it was rather inviting. The taste of the beer wasn't as floral or hoppy as I was hoping it'd be. The mouthfeel was decent, pretty typical stuff for an APA. Overall the beer was quite good and had a solid amount of flavors and aromas from start to finish.

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Photo of 9InchNails
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A goldish yellow color in body. A slight off white head. It looks really carbonated with the bubbles rushing upward. The head is sticking around quite long and is forming into a creamy head. It's slightly cloudy but not over the top, still able to tell what's going on it the mug. Nice lacing on the glass as well.

The smell is very piney. Maybe it was more wet hopped than dry hopped. It's definitely has a nice smell.

It's pretty smooth, light body. The carbonation is there but not overpowering. It feels like it's going to leave the mouth feeling dry right away but doesn't.

A piney taste with bitterness. This is all hop flavoring here. It tastes if I stuck my tongue directly onto a single hop. I taste some dry fruits as well in the background. This reminds me more of an IPA.

I could definitely drink another one and another one and another one... I think you get the idea. It's a nice tasting beer, smooth and not filling at all. It's low in the ABV department, which is strange to taste in a Stone Brew. A nice collaboration between Kelsey McNair, Ballest Point and Stone Brewing Co.

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Photo of socon67
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Orange color and quite cloudy. Sticky lacing on the glass. Tan foam settles a bit slowly.

S - Pine cones and hop resin smell. Has a light malt and light grain smell. Smells a little like pancake batter.

T - Very nice session beer. Light drinking with a residual sweetness. Finish has a mild bitterness. Tastes very much like a mild west coast IPA, but without the citrus nites and more sweet malt.

M - Easy to session. Light feel, solid balance, and keeps your taste buds interested.

O - Doubt I'll see this one again, but I'd enjoy finding it.

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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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