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

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

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mcallister on 08-07-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 270 | Ratings: 376
Photo of sweemzander
3.01/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Thanks to cjacobsen for tossing a bottle my way!

(A)- Pours a clear orange color that produced a decent off-white head with good retention and lace.

(S)- A dry piney hop profile. Subtle hints of spice in the background.

(T)- Very dry and bitter. Lots of pine with subtle citrus characters. Subtle bits of a sweet caramel or honey too.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Again, very dry and bitter; this would put many IPA's to shame in regards to how bitter this really is. It actually almost kills off any other flavor this would otherwise have.

(D)- Not bad. It would be more sessionable as it is called if it was not so bitter.

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Photo of number1bum
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy light amber color with an orange tint to it, and two fingers of ivory head. Keeps a very thin, wispy lace, and leaves some nice splashy webbing on the sides.

Smell is dank, resiny, and very citrusy, with some sweet, juicy notes but a good deal of pithy, rindy grapefruit. There is a very subtle sweetness and a biscuity quality but the malt overall is in the background. It's floral and vibrant and is quite appealing; it gives me what I'd expect out of an IPA that's at least 50% stronger in terms of ABV.

Taste is also super hoppy, with resiny pine and sticky grapefruit. It's dank, musty and very resiny, with a pithy, bitter quality to it. Nice hop flavor. Where it falls a little flat however is in providing any malt backbone to offset the hoppiness. That's not surprising given that it's 4.2%, but that bit of sweetness and body is missed with this level of hoppiness. Bitterness is probably moderate by IPA standards but because of the lack of balance it wears out the tongue.

Mouthfeel is a light body with some oily slickness to it, that gets very dry and somewhat abrasive from the bitterness as it goes into the finish. Already mentioned this but the lack of body makes this pretty out of balance in terms of the feel, as well.

This is funny, because I love that they amped out the hop flavor while keeping this sessionable, but by so doing the absence of much malt sweetness makes it like a low ABV hop bomb. By so being, it wears on the palate and detracts from the sessionability of the beer. Maybe you just can't have it all. No matter, this is a solid beer and if I didn't mind shattering my palate or just wanted a hoppy fix without much kick, this would do the the trick very nicely. Pretty well done, although somewhat conflicted.

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Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Light honey nectar color with a fluffy white head. It has a nice glow.

Smell: There is a Nice oily hop aroma and floral bouquet. Additionally there is a slight bread quality. Good bitter hop with hints of grapefruit and melon rind.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is a little watery. I would expect more for a regular pale ale but this is a nice hydrating session ale. the flavor profile isn't wide but it is a recognizable malty pale ale. The beer starts with a mild melon sweetness then lemon zest. The ale rapidly advances to quick flash of light bitterness. The bitter lingers a little too long for my liking.

Overall: This session is an easy drinking pale ale. A lot of good solid malts and hops. Nothing too complex. I find it to be to expensive. $2.30 a bottle. I wish they sold it in affordable six packs.

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Photo of kitty66
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yeast all over, delicious malt. New style of beer - american belgian.

Great light-weight contender, this is the fresh beer that works especially well chilled on a warm summer day.

This would be popular in europe, in u.s. people may not understand it.

Grab it now !

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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 ccrida
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tumbler, San Diego County Session Ale is dull gold with a small white head with some big bubbles leading to a quick dissipation, leaving light lace.

Smell is citric hops, some skunkIness, not intensely pungent, and even though it was served from a cooler at a bottle shop, the high price and out of town brewery suggests it's most likely uber fresh, for which I can't knock the brewers, as this style requires this.

Taste is light biscuit malt, then a big wave of citrus hops, and then a fairly abrupt mineral finish, with a lingering hop resin after taste. Well balanced hop flavor, bitterness, and malt, for the 'style'. As advertised, exactly what I'd expect from a San Diego Session Ale - a west hop monster with a light pub ale backbone.

Mouthfeel is modestly dry, and on the light bodied side.

Drinkability is pretty good, as a hop head that is trying not to drink myself death, I totally get the concept, and think it was a success. Priced reasonably by the sixer, or even cheap pints, and I'd get it on a regular basis. This 12 oz. bottle was $4 though, which is not a price I'd stock up on.

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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 THECPJ
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: golden yellow orange with a 2 finger head

smell: floral, citrus, hops,

taste: floral, pure bitterness

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, light to medium body, crisp

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


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Photo of cyrock1
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pale gold to deep gold.

Smell: Citrusy American hop profile in the aroma.

Taste: Light malt with citrus/grapefruit.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a mild hop biterness that quickly fades.

Drinkability: Classic pale ale style that you could have few of, but why would you at the high price?

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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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of 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.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on February 24, 2011. The pour was a cloudy, pale yellow with a busy carbonation leading to a thin, but long lasting fizzy white head. There are lots of hops in the aroma along with pine and resin. The body is medium and very soft. The taste is also full of hops with a fascinating caramel malts-sourness about it. A nice beer.

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Photo of brewdan
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Grilledsquid for this extra.

Hazy amberish color.

Nice hoppy citrusy aroma.

Flavor is really nice. Crisp clean citrus but not too bitter.

Mouthfeel is really good. Creamy and well carbonated.

Drinkability is off the charts. Drinks like a junior IPA- most of the taste but not all the alcohol.

Finally a really good hoppy brew under 5% ABV beer! I wish I could get cases of this one! Well done.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours a hazed amber/orange color with a pearl, creamy off white head with long retention and light lacing. Aroma is very hoppy and citric with some bready and biscuit malt undertones. Flavor is exceptionally dry and hoppy, dominated by citrus rind and biscuit malt. Packs a lot of flavor and hop for 4.2% but becomes a little dull and boring over the course of the bottle. Mouth is creamy and full bodied with a crisp finish. The aroma is the highlight of this, and while exceptionally drinkable, is unfortunately a little boring due to the flat, one dimensional flavor.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy bright orange-amber color with a finger of fizzy white head. The head fades fairly quickly to a ring and leaves behind a tad of lacing.

S - Combination of strong bitter hop aroma and some citrus fruit (lots of grapefruit). There is also some sweet malt in the background.

T - Starts off with some nice citrus flavor and some floral hop bitterness. Lots of grapefruit flavor. Just a touch of fruit sweetness and malt in the background. Through the middle the citrus flavor comes through with some nice bitterness leading the way. The finish has some nice lingering citrus flavors alongside some floral hop bitterness.

M - Light to medium-light bodied and fairly heavily carbonated. Almost a tad too carbonated. The leaves a bit of a thick syrupy feeling in the mouth.

D - Very drinkable. Light mouthfeel without sacrificing any flavor. Lots of hop and citrus going on here and it stays really enjoyable all the way through. Only complaint is a bit too much carbonation.

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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 dmsohyea
4.29/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2/14/11 3 day old growler from Stone

I've had this beer previously on-tap and in bottles. Fresh out of the tap this beer has a much stronger nose.

A: Pours yellow with a half finger fizzy head that dissipated quickly with very little lacing.

S: The scent is the best aspect of this beer, very floral and citrusy. Hops, hops and more hops in this beer.

T: Has sharp hop bitterness and taste with some grapefruit, orange, and pine. Should be a hop-head's favorite light beer.

M: The texture is very carbonated with a boarder-line watery body. This is the worst aspect of the beer, but comes with the territory of session style ales. If the carbonation wasn't so intense, the thin body may not have been as noticeable.

D: Very drinkable. Finished off the 2L growler in less than an hour between two people. I would have had another if it hadn't run out.

Excellent beer, it's between this one and 30th street pale for my favorite of the APA's.

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Photo of WhyBeNormal
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance and nose are average for American IPA, but I'm giving it slightly above average in both categories because I think it's impressive what they've done to make a very hop-centric ale so low in ABV. Taste is on-par with bigger IPAs with a big sticky resiny bitterness that sticks around on the back and sides of your tongue after finishing. Only downfall is that it's just a little bit thin in comparison to an average American IPA. Regardless, it's very tasty and I really really wish it was a year-round release.

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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 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 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 mryuk
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours pale orange, unfiltered with medium head that dissipates quickly.

nose is strong fresh hops with a bit of sweet.

taste is fresh with strong bitter and sour that linger on the tongue for a while.

very carbonated and refreshing.

Although this beer was alright I would take almost anything stone has produced over this. I will wait until summer to get this again...would be perfect for a lawn mowing.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: hazy golden straw color, fairly decent white head that runs away quickly, but leaves legs all over the place.
S: veeerrryyyy inviting. grassy fresh hops. some orange and
tangerine wafes out, sweet like sugar. i can even get some dried apricot.
T: a grassy taste is quite obvious, its rather overpowering but nice. the hops and citrus notes are very pungent and the way it heats the back of my mouth makes me almost think of black pepper, although that flavor is not there.
M: it defintely makes its presence known as the flavors are sharp, and the carbonation brings it alive. very nice and almost refreshing to drink.
D: if i was drinking this in the summer, itd be way high. even during this cold winter night, very refreshing and delicious.

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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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