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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 Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a slight hazy golden orange with yellow highlights that had a thin bubbly white head and did leave a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: mango, pineapple, pine, and hops are noticeable right away with a good sweet malt presence but was also able to detect slight citrus, tangerine, and grass notes; great aroma.

T: on the first couple of sips I really enjoyed how the pine hops and grass work together but still has some fruitiness consisting of tangerine, citrus, mango, and slight pineapple. Accents. It even had a pretty good malt backbone to balance out the hop bite.

M: the brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a fruity, slight sweet but pine hop bitter crisp finish.

D: it drank really good and was definitely a west coast style IPA. That it probably one of my favorite collaboration brews from the stone brewery.

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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 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 chaz410
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this bottle at Brawleys in Charlotte.
Pours a brilliant yellow/off amber tinted, translucent body with a wonderful, surprisingly thick snow white head that's very thick and fluffy. Great carbonation that is only aided by the clarity.
Smells like Sculpin junior. It's huge pine hoppy notes, bubbly citrus and grassy hop character. Not much malt notes but some corn-like pilsner malt undertone.
Taste is bready, like corn bread almost, not much sweet malt notes. Some obvious pilsner character, all layered under a well placed and not over powering hop bouquet of pine, grassy hop notes and some pineapple. The hope intensity is nowhere near the smell.
Very dry finish and very clean.

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Photo of portia99
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a Portsmouth tulip.

A - Pours a crystal clear pale golden color. Orangey highlights complete the color palette. A finger of short lasting white foam dies to a thick collar with some sticky lacing that clings to the glass all the way thru this one.

S - Wow...huge fresh grapefruit aroma leaps from the glass. Slight medicinal aroma creeps in along with some grassy hop aromas. Only the slightest hint of biscuity malt but the hops dominate this completely.

T - In a word - hoppy! There is an intense bitterness up front that is the first thing that I notice. Surrounding this bitterness are fresh grapefruit and resiny pine. Extremely mild sweetness derived from the malt. Not especially complex - this is all about the hops.

M - Light/medium bodied with a crisp medium/high carbonation level. Very tingly with a bit of a bite on the tongue. Resiny and sticky hops hit every corner of the mouth. Citrus and hop bitterness linger forever after the swallow.

D - This is a pretty impressive hoppy APA. Is this the direction that pale ales are gonna go in the future? Makes me think back to the first time I tried SNPA in the early 90's and falling in love with the west coast hoppy beers. Times change and SNPA doesn't seem that hoppy anymore compared to other beers out there. Right now, this is as intense, bitter and hop flavorful a pale ale as there is out there. The fact that this beer manages to pack all this flavor into a 4.2% session beer is amazing. I'd be tempted to buy cases of this (if I could find that much!) and put it away, but time is going to be an enemy of this one, I'm afraid. Guess I'll settle for having the last couple of these I picked up very quickly and be happy...and hope that somehow this can become a regular offering.

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Photo of jpmclaug
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my Stone pint glass. I was happy to find this at my local beer store.

A - Clear, darkamber body with an everlasting white head

S - 4.2% Pale Ale? Yeah right this has the aromas of a full blown DIPA. Nice citrusy hop presence with nice tropical notes as well.

T - The hop flavor that I picked up on in the nose comes through up front on this beer. Mostly citrus hop flavor with a hint of tropical hop presence as well. I get a hint of a malt backbone in the middle before finishing with a lingering bitterness. It only lingers a little while though.

M - pretty light bodied and real smooth. light carbonation. This is probably the weakest part of this beer.

D - Pretty solid beer. I enjoy the full hop presence in a low ABV beer. This is certainly a beer worth trying, if only for a unique experience. I would pick it up again if I saw it at the right price, it's a little steep at 3 bucks a bottle right now.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.92/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A pint had at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, CA.

Golden with a touch of amber and clear. Some carbonation and a sufficiently dense head. Good head retention. Grapefruit aroma and a bit on the resinous side. Leans toward the soft side up front, carbonation is noticeable, but no bite. Pine and citrus shows up in the middle with back of the toungue bitterness showing up early. Bitter in the finish, but fading quicker than most West Coast IPAs. Medium mouthfeel.

I can certainly see why this is about as perfect a session IPA as you can get. Definitely West Coast, but not over-the-top like many. Very drinkable, particularly with the low ABV. Not to worry, as the balance and flavor make up for the low alcohol.

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Photo of whiskeysoda
4.67/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am going to forgo the formal A/S/T/(M) protocol for this beer.

Why? Because it is beautifully simple. Every character of a crisp, floral, refreshing IPA that finishes with a dry and piny tip of its proverbial hat. It accentuates the hop component of the beer without being resinous or abrasive. As my friends who don't normally drink IPAs messaged me minutes after I gave them a bottle, "Ooh! It tastes just like pot! But without the burning! :cD"

As hoppy as a double, but with the body of a (light) munich pilsner, I could literally savor this all day.

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Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear gold body beneath a white head.

Citrus and floral aromas burst from my glass.

The flavor is almost all hops, malt it barely detectable. Hoppy, but not very bitter. Grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon with floral notes on the finish. A true session ale, I would drink 4 or 5 if I could.

Did I just taste the future of beer? I always wondered what it would be like if a light beer was heavily hopped. Afterall, its the alcohol level that produces most of a beer's calories, not hops. Well, now I know and it is excellent.

Want to be a millionaire? Learn how to make a beer like this around 125 calories and under $9 a 6pk.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased from K&L in Redwood City.

Ok, ok... This is "not a session ale" by Ding's definition, but since that has never been substantiated by any concrete proof (to my knowledge), I will arbitrarily grant a +/- 5% swing. 4.2% is now sessionable.

A: Pours a murky, glowing orange body in my Hair of the Dog tulip. I poured carefully so I could get it all in the glass in one go. Nonetheless, it maintains a nice cap with a substantial collar for the duration of the drink. Nice.

S: Citrus! It doesn't have the clean, bright aromas of Sculpin; it is instead tempered with a dose of herbal hops, grass, and a touch of pale malt. This is a dead ringer for an IPA.

T: This is extremely hoppy, as the nose might suggest. Unfortunately, that's about it. There's a light maltiness, but I can't pick up anything else. It has a nice grapefruit, orange peel, and grass flavor going on, with the last component lingering into the finish for some remaining bitterness.

M: Dry finish with lingering bitterness. The body is light-medium. Clean flavor, but truthfully, I'd liken it to "watery."

D: I'm not realistically going to pay $4 for this again; I bought it to show my support for the experiment more than anything. Not a successful one in my eyes. What ever happened to the balanced, subtle, refined English malt that Ding is always talking about? This is just dry-hopped to death.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.51/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

appearance: golden maber color. poor head and no lacing. lager like

smell: huge hop aroma

taste: wow... all hops and no malt backbone. But it taste great. I imagine this beer would not age well. great fresh, Piney, earthy hops

mouthfeel: light bodied

drinkability: I could definitly drink these all night.

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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 atsprings
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a DFH Signature glass pours a crisp orange with a nice frothy eggshell head that lasts as a thin layer and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is a surprising amount of crisp floral citrus hops in front of subtle sweet malts, if I didn't know better, I'd guess from the nose that this was a full bodied West coast IPA. The taste is a very nice amount of crisp citrus hops with a nice subtle sweet malt backbone that gives way to a simple yet plentiful bitter citrus hop finish. The beer is very light, crisp, and refreshing. This one was a very pleasant surprise, proof that an enjoyable hoppy beer does not require high alcohol as well. I wish I had picked up more of this, oh well.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at work the other day.

Appearance- amber color, nice foamy head

Smell- hoppy aroma, very nice

Taste- hoppy flavor, very nice and refreshing

Mouthfeel- medium bodied

Drinkability- very good, I loved it. I definitely need to get more of it.

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Photo of popery
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very good pale ale with a fantastic hoppy aroma. The only potential downside is that it drinks its size and no bigger. I like smaller beers that seem to have compressed huge flavors into a low abv, and this beer succeeds admirably in that respect in the aroma. However, the taste is just a bit weak and fails to live up to the nose's promise. It's quite dry and light, which aren't really bad qualities but the beer is so clean that it's approaching wateriness. On the other hand, the beer looks great. Spot-on for the style - golden amber body beneath a creamy white head that sticks to the sides of the glass like Elmer's finest. The aroma is citric and peppery hops. It's delicate and full and reminds me of the aroma in a brewery's hop storage room. Anyway, the taste isn't really a negative. In fact, it fits the session idea quite well. It's mild with some hop bitterness and would make for a very pleasant beverage to accompany one through a night of consumption. The feel also keeps things nice and light. Good beer but this is one to drink on tap for a night. Selling it as singles for $3 apiece just seems kinda wrong.

Edit: by the end of my second bottle, I came around on the flavor. It's light, dry and wonderful. I'm indecisive.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with a frothy white head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of big citrus and grass notes.

Tastes of big hops with a solid pale malt backbone. Hops are grapefruit, orange, with some grass and herbal notes. Malt has a breadiness with very little sweetness. Would like to have a bit more of the pale malt.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

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Photo of nonstick
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into SN tulip.

A: Orange copper color, 1/4" of head that slowly dissipates leaving some nice lacing.

S: Very hoppy, nice bitter grapefruit, slight pine. I can't say I'm getting much malt.

T: Tastes like it smells, big bang of grapefruit, nice bitter bite. I also get a slight bit of pine.

M: Pretty light mouthfeel. Plenty of carbonation.

D: Pretty nice session beer. Very drinkable. I will have to grab a couple more of these.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Durty Nellies.

A: appears a bright clear gold, 1 finger white head, decent retention

S: huge aromatic hops, sweet juicy grapefruit and mango, this is incredibly hop forward and smells delicious. Not picking up much malt backbone.

T: Like the nose, the hops are in your face right away. This particular blend lends a lot of nice citrus flavors among other tropical fruits. The finish is very crisp and clean. The hops are strong but never bitter and the finish leaves you wanting more.

MF: light body, high carbonation

D: this beer fits the description- a session ale with tons of hops packed in. It would be nice if this were put in a 6pk. Overall a great beer.

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

Aopearance= Golden orange

Smell- Grapefruit, Citru. Strong and aromatic

Taste- Carbonated, grassy, orange, spicy, piney,

Mouthfeel- bubbly, crisp

Overall, this beer is the closest thing to FFF gumballhead that I can recall tasting. It's a bit more balanced on the hop/malt side than GH is, with a little bit thicker mouthfeel, but pretty close.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a German lidless glass stein.

Finally, a Stone collabo in decent quantities at my local store. It's nice to be back in IL. But is this really a session beer? I think certain British expatriates (or even just one vocal one) may have something contrary to say on the subject...

This brew pours a clear rich straw topped by a half-finger or so of white foam. The nose is pinier than I expected, with a touch o' ruby red grapefruit and a gentler touch o' sugary caramel sharing the closet in this robot's apartment (...the closet in the closet, I guess...I really hope this makes some sense later on...). The taste is nearly identical, with the usual uber-hops we've come to expect (and, for some, to love) from the boys at Stone. The body is light, with a light carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a very nice little beer, extremely drinkable due to the all-level lightness.

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Photo of beagle75
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Draft pour into a shaker pint at Selma's in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A: Clear, light amber with over one finger of diminishing white foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Intense juicy grapefruit unaccompanied by other elements.

T: Faint biscuit is just detectable before abundant aromatic hop flavors fill the palate. As dictated by the smell, grapefruit dominates here along with light pine. Bitterness is strong and somewhat astringent, with grapefruit character carrying through.

M: Thin viscosity, watery, with moderate-high carbonation. None of the resiny stickiness usually found in a west coast IPA is present here.

D: As this beer was designed to deliver big hop flavor in a sessionable package, it is a resounding success. Although its availability is fleeting, this beer would make a fine companion piece to Stone's own session beer: Levitation. Producers of other lower-abv hop bombs (Craftsman comes to mind) should take note that the bar has officially been raised by this beer.

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Photo of adkirkish
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a clear straw yellow w/ a white bubbly head. Light dissipation.

A: Herbal, grassy, and piney hop aroma dominates back up w/ some light pale malt. No diacetyl / No esthers.

F: Light pils malt taste upfront but the herbal hops come through and finishes with a lingering bitter taste. The pils malt is supporting but very light. The body is mostly watery - Imagine hop flavored water if you could. (This is a session beer after all). The balance is hop oriented.

M: Medium bodied and medium-high carb, no alcohol warmth or creaminess.

O: This is definitely sessionable and if you're a hop head, this is a must try. This would go well for after surfing and fish tacos. I'd trade a 12pk of Corona for a couple of these and be just fine. Dont ask why or what I have the Coronas for, it's a good trade ;)

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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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