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

Poured into Sweetwater Pint glass

A - Pours a bronzy-orange in color with ample carbonation. This carbonation leads to an impressive and bubbly head.

S - Very prominent hop aroma coupled with citrus notes.

T - Excellent hop bitterness that resembles the nose. The bitterness is smoothed out with malt entering late into the taste. Fruit is presence within the taste: orange and grapefruit. This beer is very crisp and refreshing.

M - Light body with ample carbonation.

D - This is a nice session ale. The crispness and bitterness with the low alcohol make it very enjoyable.

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Photo of corby112
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy dark golden yellowish ripe banana color with golden yellow hues when held to a light source and a two finger frothy, pillowy white head. Excellent retention, only slowly fading into a lasting cap that coats the glass with large rings and splotches of soapy lacing. A bit darker than I expected but it looks pretty damn good.

Dank, uber-fresh, earthy, resinous hop aroma with lots of pine, oily hops, kind bud and slight sweet citrus fruit. I'm picking up some grapefruit and lemon peel as well as a slight creamy element and subtle pale malt. I was expecting this to have more citrus and tropical fruit notes but it smells like fresh hops and earth.

Chewy full body with a bitter, earthy hop blast that lingers throughout over the slight citrus notes and malt backbone into a dry finish. Very dry and bitter up front with a lot of earthy pine needle that kind of dominates the flavor. Again, there isn't much balance in the hop profile. All earthy bitterness and sorely lacking the sweet tropical and citrus fruit notes that I love in WCIPAs. The malt backbone is way too strong and although it doesn't cut down the hop profile much, it just adds to the mouthfeel without contributing much flavor. Even though this beer is only 4.2% that alcohol isn't well masked. I had a lot of hope for this one but it turns out to be a one-dimensional mess with a tongue coating, sticky dry finish.

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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.

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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 rodbeermunch
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old review from notes.

Yellow beer with lots of clarity. Nice white 1/2" head. Aroma seemed like a great mix of newer style ipa hops. Amarillo seemed to jump. Plenty of citrus and pine. One of the first session ipas I've come across. The price at $3/12oz was a little heavy, but if they could drop it to $2 a bottle, I think it could work.

This beer stays very light on its feet while packing plenty of flavor. There's been better ones going on lately.

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Photo of beertunes
3.22/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in straight pint glass. This beer was very lively and the bartender had a hard getting more beer than head in the glass. It poured a semi-hazy orangeish-yellow with a lot of white head that had moderate retention and lots of lacing.

A very strong pine hop aroma greets the nose without a noticeable malt foundation. The piney hops also dominate the tongue, again no noticeable malt presence. There was a weird taste that I couldn't identify, even after trying the beer several times. Kind of metallic or coppery, but different.

The body was too thin to be enjoyable. Other than the weird taste, drinkability was pretty good. I've had several and will have more.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a dark gold color with about an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is citrusy (grapefruit) and pine hops. Taste is the same as the aroma, it's all citrus and pine hops. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit oily with good carbonation. Drinkability is nice, with just 4.2% ABV it's quite sessionable. I think it's a decent 4.2% ABV brew. It's worth trying once at $3.99 a bottle, but at that price I wouldn't buy it again. But if Stone decided to brew this all the time at a lower price, I think it would be a good hoppy session brew. I liked it, I thought it was a good overall beer.

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Photo of avalon07
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a yellowish color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was a half inch of creamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A strong - much stronger than most APAs - aroma of hops, malt, citrus, and a piney resin.

T: Had a much higher hops content than you'd expect for the style. There were elements of citrus and resin as well, with a malty backbone. Not exactly true to the style, but a good flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Light-bodied.

D: A drinkable 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 Brad007
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light copper/gold color with a one-finger head into my glass. Nice presentation for the style.

There's only one way to describe the aroma: Heavenly. Chock full of citrus and herbal grassiness from the hops used. Very, very nice.

Taste is a slightly different story. Kind of thin but retains the chewiness/grassiness/citrus vibe from the hops. Otherwise, kind of lacking.

Ditto on mouthfeel. Not much left to linger though.

Not everything can be a hit and this is kind of in-between. I could just drink Stone's Levitation Ale and be done with it. Still a good example to check out.

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Photo of cbutova
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Clear white orange with a nice creamy white head. Good retention, nice and frothy. Some spots of thick lace.

S- Reminiscent of Sculpin for sure, can smell it from several feet away. Amazing tropical and citrus fruit notes. Some pine and earthy hints. Just like with Sculpin, I feel like it is going to taste like a sweet tropical fruit wonderland. Fabulous.

T- Very flavorful hops lend tropical fruit, pine, earthy and even spicy notes. A pretty large citrus zing upon swallowing. The hops fade in the finish and a nice light caramel, bready malt backbone comes through.

MF- Very light body with some creaminess to it and high carbonation stinging the palate. Pretty damn bitter for the goal of this one, wish it was a bit less.

DB- The first few sips of this one blew me away. It smells absolutely fantastic but the taste becomes slightly unbalanced because the hops take over the nice malt. My burps are so amazing right now, taste like Sculpin and Alesmith IPA. Great hop profile, a bit too bitter and I wish the malt wasn't massacred (for a "session" beer at least).

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Scored a couple of these while in the area for BT. Super clarity, ebbs from yellow to very light orange. Good tiny bubble head.

Aroma was amazing, perfect. Lots of amarillo and maybe nelson?

Taste, pretty easy going, very full of floral hop mouthfeel. One of the best session hoppy beers around. Line this one up with some Daisy Cutter, and I'll take this one every time. Its that good. $3 a bottle is pretty expensive for a session beer, but since it is pretty much the best in its style, I'd say its worth it.

Downside, it is one dimensional to a degree, but how complex of a session ale do you need?

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Photo of maximum12
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to errantknight & stormking47 for sending me bottles of this almost simultaneously. Eager to try this one; I love my big stouts & barrel aged whatever, but the world is really lacking tasty session beers. Hoping this is one!

Pours a clear light orange mixed with bits of coppper. Nose is good, sweet malts mixed liberally with west coast hops. Great pine & citrus coming off the surface, promising first note.

San Diego County Session Ale brings what I hoped for. 4.2%? Really? Why is this so hard for brewers to do? Pale malts are balanced out vs. fairly aggressive hopping, tropical & citrusy & such-like. Pale malts block & tackel, but then bitterness flows over the palate & washes away both the malt & the subtlety of the hops. Whack bitter in the ending.

"Session Ale" is an accurate description, this is drinkable as all hell. Maybe it's the freshness, perhaps session ales can't travel, or lose their appeal & tastiness quickly.

Excellent beer. Impressive taste from a low ABV beer. I hope this is a trend that come & plants it's low ABV fanny in my neighborhood for a long time.

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Photo of Bung
3.45/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Brighter gold pour, finger of white head.

Aroma is herbal pine hoppy, pretty much it.

Taste, also herbal and piney hops. Finishes the same. Pretty straight forward.

Lighter bodied, nearly watery thin. Obviously quite drinkable, but I just don't find it all that inviting for another. I'll scacrifice the extra 0.8 abv and drink something with a little more to it.

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Photo of claspada
2.97/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The aroma is mostly citrus, with grapefruit dominating as well, but a few traces of pineapple and orange.

Taste is average at best. Unfortunately the overall flavor falls a little flat. Somewhat salty taste; wierd indeed. I get decent amounts of bitter pine and pale malts, but overall the taste just seems a little hollow to me.

The body is light-medium with an abundance of bubbly carbonation. This beer is fairly refreshing, but I just want more flavor out of this beer. NOT AT ALL worth the inflated "collaboration" price tag associated with this beer. Maybe better on tap, but not necessary to seek out or purchase if over $2 a bottle.

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Photo of Rutager
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a nice clear amber gold with a finger of white head.

Smell. Grapefruits and nice toasty grains and caramel.

Taste. Grapefruits and orange, caramel, light grains. A little lingering grapefruit rind bitterness.

Mouthfeel. Light body. A little thin and watery. Below medium carbonation.

Overall. Decent lighter abv beer with good flavour. I would rather dring less amounts of slightly bigger beers.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.85/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked up this 12oz bottle for $3.50 in Columbus, finally thinking I've found the collaboration I've been waiting for, one that focuses on hops instead of spices. After bringing it home I realized the name is "San Diego County Session Ale", which I understand as it's a low ABV beer with neoclassic San Diego hops treatments. But on another level it doesn't make sense as I believe a session ale should be more affordable, as it will be consumed in large quantities...

To start with it looks and smells incredibly good. Hazy dark golden color, thick wet white foam and gorgeous lacing all over the glass. Citrus hops take over the aroma, no malt balance at all. This smells like an Alpine Duet, maybe one of several Ballast Point beers too, so much west coast hoppiness. I'd guess Citra and Amarillo, but almost certainly there are others too.

And what you smell is what you taste, the hops really are the whole story. No malt balance which is OK by me, and I guess it was no problem keeping the malt bill weak in order to achieve a low ABV. Still, it must take some skill to put together such beautiful looking beer with such delicious qualities and keep it low. Tropical and citrusy fruits, well done. Funny, it's not a stretch to call this abrasively hoppy, you can feel a little stomache burn even in this low ABV ale.

Thin bodied, easy pounding, everything I could want, except at a price point that guarantees I won't buy too many.

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

12oz bottle $4. I was quite interested to try this collaboration to see how hoppy it really was. They are not fucking around, this is a very, very hoppy beer no matter the ABV. The smell is all grapefruit, citrus, straight hops, very nice. The taste was more of the same but also super bitter, almost too bitter but there really is no such thing. This is a great beer for hopheads but I'd say its no session beer just because it really assaults your palate and its not cheap. Levitation is still the best hoppy session beer I know of.

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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 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 BeerFMAndy
3.41/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 4.2% ABV, Enjoy by 11 10 10.

A - Topped by a white head that wont leave, this lightly hazy golden yellow beer displays promise in the appearance alone. Lots of thick lace left on the glass.

S - Cascade hops are apparent through the opening aroma of lemon citrus, pineapple, and a herbal blend. Pale malts and straw fall behind and are largely overtaken by the voluptuous hops.

T - Hazy grain and straw adds a faint note to the pale malt backdrop. Lots of hops up front but it's still thin and underdeveloped. Main flavors consist of a herbal lemon grass, light fruit (pineapple) juice splash. A bit resiny.

M - Thin and very light-bodied, there isn't much here. Dry bitter resin finish could use some balance to it. Highly carbonated.

D - It's an easy drinking session ale but it lacks true flavor. Lots of hops won't make a beer great. Either a lower hop level should be achieved or it could a slight, slight boost in crystal malt (and subsequently body). For a light, session ale, its good, for an APA, not so much.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

Pours a darker golden yellow with a one finger high head. Slowly fades into some buoyant film with plenty of bubbly lacing around the glass.

Boatloads of piny hops explode into the nose, which you can smell before even pouring the beer. Other floral and citrus notes flair up.

Bitter right up front with an avalanche of grapefruit and potent zest. Some fruity tones dance by, but only to be chased away by more hops. Sticky piny hops and a bit of toasted biscuit and wheat are detectable. Finishes super dry and bitter with lingering flavor.

Thinner body, incredibly dry at points, with plenty of lingering stickiness on the tongue. Goes down fast and smooth, although the dryness was a bit much for me at points. A high quality beer with a ton of hops, although they practically overwhelm any other flavors.

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

A beautiful clear amber with a modest white cover and fair lacing. The aroma is IPA like citrus woodsy hop. Solid and enticing. The flavor is bright citrus, grapefruit straw-biscuit, crisp with minor carbonation but very refreshing. Pretty light in body and very drinkable with a crispy feel. Lots of biscuit and floral ideas here. Grassy finish with an almond sweetness hidden somewhere. A very pleasant surprise to find at the Ale House in Amesbury, MA.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass.

A: Pours a slightly cloudy golden iced-tea color with a couple fingers of oily off-white head that slowly faded into a thick film that left damn near a solid wall of sticky lace down the glass.
S: Very fresh and green smelling. Big notes of grapefruit and citrus dominate, but there is more going on with notes of pine, hop resin, tropical fruits and marijuana. I even get a hint of tea. Very very good smelling!
T: Hints of sweet caramel and toasted malt hints your tongue first, but are quickly overpowered by bitter grapefruit pith and herbal and tobacco flavors. Balanced is not a word for this IPA. The finish is very earthy and herbal with maybe even a hint of mint, and the aftertaste is lingering and bitter.
M: Medium body, dry mouthfeel and even, bubbly carbonation. Surprisingly dry and very bitter.
D: The nose on this beer is great, so is the look. The flavor is far from bad, but it is not as potent and the smell. I would definitely try this again and it's worth seeking out if it's around.

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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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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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