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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
Very Good
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 Stigs
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, served in a Stone pint glass

A - pours with almost half an inch of creamy, white foam with a slightly yellowish tint. the beer is crystal clear, on the darker side of gold in color. leaves behind a moderately heavy wall of sticky lace on the glass.

S - fresh, bright citrusy, grassy, slightly piney hops. citrus dominates with some slightly over-ripened melon and pineapple.

T - assertive hop bitterness right out of the gate. hop flavors take their time settling in, with bright wet grass and pine taking hold first. more fruity and mellow citrus fruits come in, as well as some mild spice and "cattyness". malts barely play any role in this, with some some light caramel coming in near the end as it warms.

M - adequate moderate and pinchy carbonation. body is on the thin side, and finishes dry with a big lingering piney hop bitterness.

D - very well done. cures a hop craving with a light (almost to a fault) body, and an insanely manageable ABV. 2 or more of these will go down without a problem. many thanks to BA'er electricant for sending me a couple of these as part of his first trade - welcome to the madness.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I really like what they did with this beer.

A: Poured a slightly hazy golden color. A finger of white head with excellent lacing.

S: The nose is all San Diego. A really nice fresh and bright citrus blast. Beyond that there really was nothing but that but this is the SD session ale after all.

T: Really nice. The hops were all there really was but it was nice. Citrus grapefruit and a little bit of lemon. The malt was barely there but they really did not have a lot to work with to keep the ABV low. This was to showcase the hops and they did that.

M: The mouthfeel is a little thin. The carbonation is good.

D: I really enjoyed this and love what they did here. They need to make this a year round offering. A great beer with a low ABV.

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Photo of tempest
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, the world needs more beer like this - hoppy, full-flavored, and ridiculously drinkable. The aroma and flavor are bursting with hops. I'm smelling orangey floral mixtures and tasting the near-lavender and flower notes of Simcoe hops, before a big bitter citrus rind kicks in to leave a slightly peppery, biting bitterness. It's almost like herbal juicy with a mild toast and biscuit running under the hops.

I'm reminded of the few other beers out there like this I know of - Surly's Bitter Brewer and Full-Suspension Pale Ale. Brewers please take note, brew hoppy session beers and I'll be stocking up by the case. Come on, help me out.

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Photo of Gavage
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: pours an orange color with a short 1/4" head that falls quickly.

Smell: loads of floral hops and some softer citrus tones rise from the glass.

Taste: caramel, orange, big floral bitterness, and some tart green grapes arrive late.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Crisp from start to finish. Some dryness arrives late. Aftertaste is long as the bitterness lingers on the tongue.

Drinkability: this beer was very easy to quaff and the low alcohol levels make this a perfect beer to consume over a long session.

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

Wow! $4 for a session beer at Whole Foods. Based on the breweries involved this should be interesting.

Pours a turbid gold with a good amount of head. Only smell is of aroma hops. Beer is somewhat one dimensional in that the main thing I taste is hops bitterness, but it has a very interesting hop profile...a very interesting lineup of hops. Very dry, but being low ABV and probably low calorie, I can understand it. I would say that for such a low ABV and calorie beer, that this is exceptional. Stone's Levitation can only hope to be this beer..and maybe soon it could be if they incorporate this into their recipe!

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Photo of sway0925
3.3/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The aroma smells of a light citrus style ale with a nice balance of hops, but not too must as to over power the nose.

This beer does what is says it is a session beer, the taste is very light and well balanced. Unfortunately it is hard to pin point specific notes within this beer. I can pick up a slight floral note due to the hops followed by a very weak taste of citrus and some light malt. The body to this beer is not complex at all they kept it very simple but gave it enough taste to be recognizable. The only down fall i see with this beer is the price, although i would have love to see something with a little more body the price throws me off for round two.

Overall a good session beer as an in between beer but nothing compared to some of the other collaborations.

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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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4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into mug.
A: This session ale pours a very nice, light golden color and the white head sits in a nice fluffy manner. The lacing is left in a thick layer. The appearance of this brew would say that it could be a larger, more strong brew, like its counterparts.

S: The aroma is medium intensity, but shows strong notes of grapefruit. A bit of a herbal aroma.

T/M: The taste is a bit of an over powering grapefruit, one that is some what nice, because it is sensed that the taste is coming from the hops, but not too complex with other flavors. The mouthfeel is very nice, with a smooth and refreshing wash down, leaving a dry and bitter off taste.

D: This is a really good session brew, light in body, but still holds the key hop flavors that are enjoyed. The cost 3$ per 12oz bottle, does not make it that much of a session ale. not some thing I would spend almost 20$ for a 6pack of.

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

A: Pours a nice clear light copper color, with an inch or so of thick head. Very noticable lacing also.

S: Incredibly hoppy, with notes of citrus and pine dominating subtle hints of pineapple and honey.

T: Very hop-forward taste but without a great deal of bitterness. The finish is malty and smooth.

M: Medium light body with high carbonation leaves a very clean feeling.

D: Most definately sessionable, but complex enough to keep from being borning. It's just a shame that this is such a limited release.

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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 ncvbc
3.17/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pour is clear golden with medium white head and some lacing down the glass. Good smell of fresh, strong-ish hops. Fresh, green, yummy. Seems stronger than labeled based on the nose. Taste falls short for me. A tad watered down, likely due to a lack of any malt presence. The hops are there, citrus and pine. Quite bitter but again, watery, therefore lacking that crisp/dry sensation on the level that it should be. Fairly one dimensional. I feel that the choice of hops and the overwhelming presence of the hops in this beer are more suited for an IPA than anything. Mouthfeel has a sure bitterness but is a tad thin. Overall, I wouldn't want another. To me, this is a good example of a session beer that falls short of session material. It just doesn't have any redeemable qualities that would bring me back. It's like a watered down baby Sculpin in regard to hop flavor. So to that I ask, wouldn't you rather have a Sculpin?

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

i must say a nice session that is personified, like most stone beers, by its exuberant hoping. this is needless to say a nice accent especially seeing as the beer doesn't seem to have any kinks in the other stuff. the pour is orange copper with a nice healthy white head. nose is floral pine and grapefruit. the palate is bright and astringent hop bitter and equally placed hop citrus. simple and good. pure session.

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Photo of sdsurfer217
4.67/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance: Copper in color, very clear. Small amount of white head. Looks inviting.

Smell: Lots of hop smells, pine, floral. Little bit of roasted character. Also some citrus zest. I smell a hint of pineapple in there.

Taste: Plenty of hops initially, pine, with a bitter aftertaste. Pineapple/tropical fruit taste is stronger than in the aroma

Mouthfeel: Coats the mouth nicely and goes down smooth.

Drinkability: Easy to drink for anyone who likes hops. Very balanced beer makes it easy to drink.

Great beer and would love to have many more, but for the price it's a little steep to make it a "session" beer for me.

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Photo of GJ40
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the Flying Saucer in Raleigh, NC.

Very nice floral and citrusy aroma. The hop flavor is strong at the start and it finishes with a lingering citrusy bitterness. There's a lot going on hop-wise and it's got some great elements but I think the overall flow could be better.

This beer is well worth a try but it's not one I'd pursue.

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Photo of vdoz3
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a curved DFH pint glass, drank with some spicy Chana Sag (spinach & chickpeas). Winning combo. Had this on draft ~2 weeks ago and it tasted like a straight shot of hops and water back then. Not sure if the two weeks has let the hops die down a bit, the food is bringing out its good side, or if it's a draft vs bottle issue, but either way I'm enjoying it more this time around.

The color is a really clean, clear pale orange with a minimal head and surprisingly little lacing considering how hoppy this beer is. The smell is an upfront mix of floral, grassy and tropical-fruity hops all at once with very little behind it. Taste is a similar hop-assault, ending on a tropical fruit note, but also similar in that it dies down really quickly. There's just enough of a hint of malt (slightly coating breadiness) to ease the transition from alpha-acid to water. I'm actually surprised this is classified as a pale ale. Alcohol percentage aside, this has one of the most unbalanced, intense, hop>malt ratios of a flavor profile I've ever come across.
The finish unbelievably clean and dry - there's no cloying malt whatsoever, but rather it feels like you just brushed your teeth, or ate an altoid, or something else refreshing. That definitely gets 5/5 in my book.
As the name suggests, this is a session ale. It goes down smooth and is exceedingly refreshing to drink (especially compared to one too many >10% DIPAs that coat your tongue and turn you in for the night). Oh, right, true to definition, the 4.2% alcohol doesn't hurt either. I'm doing this review on a study/dinner break haha.

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Photo of billab914
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Stone nonic pint glass. It poured a light gold, almost amber in color with a thin yet frothy white head to it. It had some nice head retention as I drank it and also left moderate lacing on the glass.

The aroma has a big hoppiness to it. I can definitely pick out the juicy and tropical punch like citra hops coming through. I love the peachy, pineapple like flavors these hops give beers. Another of my favorites, amarillo adds some nice juicy hoppiness of it's own as well. A little bit of grapefruit and pine bitterness comes through in all the hoppiness as well. Excellent hoppy aroma and extremely impressive given the low alcohol content.

The taste follows the nose with some peach and pineapple, juicy citra hops coming through. More of a grapefruit bitterness comes through towards the finish. Excellent hoppy flavors to it overall and all the hoppiness came together very well.

The mouthfeel is light and carbonation is moderate. Drinkability is very good, it had some great hoppy flavors to it and was a very easy drinking beer. It helped that they used my favorite hop varieties as well. The fact that this is a lower alcohol beer just increases the drinkability for me. This is a beer I'd gladly buy often in 6 packs if I could. Excellent beer overall and I really hope we see more beers like this soon.

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Photo of Axic10
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a light golden with a finger of fluffy white foam.

Smell: Very heavy on floral hops and sweet citrusy fruits. Picking up some grapefruit as well as sweet mango/pineapple. This just smells really "clean".

Taste: Is this really a 4.2% APA?!?! This is a flavorful beer that I would have pegged at around 7% or so based on flavor alone. Bitter, piney hops, grapefruit and some bready malt. Very nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, crisp and clean.

Drinkability: An enjoyable beer from these three collaborators. If this was a year round offering and was available in a six pack (and cheaper) I would probably always have this in my fridge. I have two more bottles that I look forward to dirnking.

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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 berebrando
4.7/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light orange and yellow. Pours with a thick white head that slowly dissipates. I love the smell - fruit, sweet fruit, like tangerines and various other sweet, not sour, citrus. As it warms, I get more hops and pine. The taste is the best - it's soft, balanced and has a dry, bitter finish. Taste is dominated by a combination of citrus and pine. It feels good in my mouth. Drinkability has to be superior, as this is a high quality, tasteful session beer - you could drink it all night and live to die another day.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with a white head. The aroma is very fruity. I get a lot of fresh papaya and some pine hop character. The beer smells about like an IPA.

The flavor is a mix of papaya and pine with low to medium bitterness. There is a little bit of bready malt, but this beer is all about the hops. Very drinkable.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This beer has a ton of flavor in a lower alcohol package. I wish breweries would brew more beers like this, instead of just seeing how high the alcohol can be.

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Photo of JizackFH
4.73/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Beautiful color, looks like it is going to go down really smooth. not too much head on this beer. You can see through it pretty well but the color is like no other low alcohol beer i have seen before. I thought it would be a much light color.

S - Smells great. Very hoppy, which i love, and a little bit of a fruit scent.

T - I think i may have found my new go to beer. This stuff tastes awesome. I never would have thought that this would be so hoppy. The low ABV is a bit of a back draw but who cares with such a great taste. Grapefruit hops, a little piney. Not watery at all, which is what i was afraid of with it being only 4.2% alcohol.

M - Pretty light but it coats the mouth nicely. i was worries it would be too light but it isn't at all

D - I could honestly drink this beer all day long. It goes down really really smooth, but has a great hop flavor. I don't seem to run into too many beer like this very often.

So this beer is just great. I was very skeptical after buying this beer that it was going to be very light, but as it turns out I am super glad i bought this. I just keep wanting more. I hope I keep seeing these in stores. they are just perfect for an anytime beer. Once again, thank you Stone.

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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 Givemesome
5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow, smells like Double Bastard to me, or maybe just Arrogant Bastard! This has to be my favorite beer right now. A bit expensive for a session ale but worth it! I hope Kelsey McNair starts making this brew in massive quanities soon because he has a winner. Hop's Hop's Hop's! I love it, taste similar to Blind Pig from Russian River and priced pretty much the same with less Alc/Vol. I can drink this all day! Has a very strong Piney, grassy, hop taste that I personallly love in I.P.A's This would be always stocked in my fridge if it were a bit cheaper!

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Photo of crusian
4.54/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle from liquormax in colorado.
had the ska equinox tonight, and this says it is also an apa.
pours a golden shower of pent up urine color. not bad. smells amazing though. VERY reminiscent of the saison de buff hops and "clean" "green" nose. very nice.
taste is very clean tasting. the hops are present, but no overwhelming. It is nice to see an actual session beer that is good. like gumball head, this is trying to buck the trend of good beers need to be bigger and higher abv... and with the number of higher abv beers out there that ARE good compared to those that are lower abv and suck... this is nice and refreshing. good job.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled October 2010
A solid pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a four-finger thick, lightly tanned, off-white colored head that leaves some nice lacing as it slowly subsides. The beer is a murky copper color that shows a lightly hazed, bright copper color when held up to the light. Ahh, the aroma is hugely aromatic, densely packed with hop notes that remind me of lychee, kumquat zest, super-ripe tangelo, juicy fruit bubble-gum are all found up front. The backend of the nose leans towards touches of dank hemp oil, pine tar, perhaps a touch of menthol and really just a dank herbal character. The malt character is almost completely subservient to the hops in the nose and I really can't pick out any malt character.

Dry and strangely devoid of flavor as it first hits my tongue, it starts to pick up a dank herbal note and ample menthol character as it rolls across the tongue until this becomes quite dominant in the finish after the beer has been swallowed. There are enough hops in this beer that my tongue is numbed a bit after each sip. Because this is such a light beer, much of the hop fruit character from the nose is severely muted in the flavor; still some tropical fruit notes of lychee and kumquat peek through at times. The hops even get a bit abrasive and even astringent in the finish, but surprisingly the bitterness on this beer doesn't seem too over the top; with such a light body I would have expected this to be bracingly bitter but the bitterness is actually fairly smooth. A touch of biscuit like malt plays a supporting role here and is the biggest malt component in this completely hop dominated beer.

The aroma on this beer is a hop lovers dream, unfortunately due to the nature of a lower gravity beer; much of the expressive hop character from the nose is deadened in the flavor. I could smell this beer forever; unfortunately the taste is a bet meh.

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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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