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

very good
376 Ratings
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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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 376 |  Reviews: 270
Photo of Westsidebuddha
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought at Whole Foods-Arroyo Parkway Pasadena, Calif.

Poured a dark golden color into a tulip glass. The smell of citrus and hops instantly hits the nose. A good taste with a mellow hop flavor. Also a good mouthfeel, nothing overwhelming. Good drinkability with a decent hoppy aftertaste.

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

Consumed September 5th, 2010.

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

Cascade hop nose - citrus and pine.

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

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

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Photo of jjh19
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Golden straw color
Smell: Very spicy nose. Huge smell.
Taste: Zing! - sharp bitterness, with a touch of sweetness.
Mouthfeel: A lot of hops. And more hops. And a sort of odd lingering off flavor finish.
Drinkability: Meh. This beer is fine if you're into really hopped beers. Me? I like a little more balance, especially in something called a "Session Ale."

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Photo of crvcac
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pretty standard.

Smell: Absolutely outstanding. Boasting hints of everything from pine to fruit to tropical esters.. this beer had it all. Does the bark match the bite? Lets see..

Taste: Upfront this beer has a very bitter hop bite for a west coast pale (seemingly intentional). For the most part it taste pretty damn good. However, towards the end of the sip the beer imparts a very undesirable off-flavored-bitterness that leaves the tongue a little ravished.

Mouthfeel: For the most part the beer is rather quaff-able. It had great carbonation.

Overall: Glad I tried this beer. Waited some time for it to come to fruition. All in all, I must say that the bitter aftertaste ruined it for me. If it's taste was able to impress me like its smell did, I'd regard this in the likes of Sculpin and Pliny. Maybe next time.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.46/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. Stone 'collaboration' bottle into a large wine glass. Pours a hazy golden copper in color with a half inch of white cap. Light to moderate retention and light lacing follow.

Nose is of piney hops and a light malt presence. Rich hop notes permeate the darkness here but are a bit unsubstantiated and a bit one directional. Much like a SoCal IPA on the nose but without the meatiness that often accompanies. Flavor is spicy and clean though light and with a hint of citrus. Not much body on the scene and with a light lemon finish.

Overall a very hoppy session beer that straddles the wrong line for me. I'd prefer a Tuatara. And even that is a stretch, yet offers more balance.

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Photo of illidurit
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle courtesy of Ryan and Mike at West Coaster. Pours clear and golden with a frothy white head. Aroma is fruity with peaches and mangoes, bright and tropical suggesting Simcoe/Summit. Flavor moves completely away from the fruity aspect of hops. Mostly oily and resinous herbal notes with a tea-like dryness. Somehow it manages to avoid being astringent. Malt character is barely there, as it should be. Pretty cool beer.

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Photo of slayer3604
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW! So I tried this a couple weeks back but never reviewed it. This was my second swing at it, and it was a bottle with Mitch Steele's writeup on it. Fantastic back story as well.

A- Pours a churning mass of bubbles, with some tight retention for about three minutes. It then died down to about a fingernail's breadth and there it stayed. The body is hazy pale gold. Lookin good.

S- Lavish pine, some resin, sticky icky, and a hint of tropics! NICE!

T- I would never have guessed that this beer was a "Session" ale until the finish! Huge amounts of flavor with a tight crispness that lasts the entirety of the swig, and even afterwards with lingering bitterness.

M- FOR A FREAKIN SESSION BEER this has a nice firm mouthfeel that leads off to a clean crisp finish. Honestly the best low alcohol beer I've ever had. Just my opinion.

D- I could drink this for days. My subconscious keeps warning me that I'll get slammed off of a bottle of this, but my heart says "drink up, bitch".

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Photo of Augustiner719
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle Into a pint glass.

Pours a clear Orange yellow color with a honey comb like head and very nice lacing. Really great appearance. The aroma is sweet sticky hops with lemon peel and some orange juice acidity. The flavor is very bitter, yet somewhat balanced with the smooth malt characteristic. Honey, grapefruit and mineral flavors are predominant. The mouthfeel is very nice and smooth. Creamy yet crisp flavors round out the beer. The very dry finish doesn't match the flavor profile so this is just off for me. Drinkability is great. Easy going down and really a great session beer.

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Photo of Kaiser81
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle from Distiller's Outlet tonight. Figured it was a good nightcap to my soccer double header. Missed the championship by 1 goal. Oh well.

12 oz bottle (been in the fridge for only an hour) poured into my snifter glass

A - A clear copper with a finger width of head that leaves very nice lacing on my glass. Decent head retention too.

S - Lots of pine and grapefruit smells. If i didn't know any better, I thought it may be an ipa. There is a touch of sweet tropical fruits on the back end with a slight sweetness from the malt as well. It's good.

T - I think the pine taste is dominant in this one. It kind of switches back with a touch of grapefruit, and then lingering grapefruit notes. Not a whole lot of malts balancing this out. After the l

M - Dry finish with a medium body and slightly above light carbonation.

D - Definitely a sessionable beer. It's good stuff, and I'm drinking it easily. Wish it was in the fridge for another 20 minutes though. My bad.

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

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle purchased at Olive Tree Market in Ocean Beach and poured into a Brouwerij 't Ij branded tulip glass.

A: Pours a super clean golden/copperish hue with a mellow head that lingers for a while leaving small amounts of lace in my glass.

S: Sweet and hoppy, very floral with some vanilla in there too. The smell is intense and wonderful, very unique and really lends to the overall quality of this beer.

T: Real similar to the smell but even more hop in the flavor, some citrus and tropical fruit with a sweet grainy flavor at the end that is nice. The hop is real present the whole time like an IPA but it doesn't completely dominate the flavor or lightness of it.

M: Medium bodied but definitely on the lighter side of medium with nice carbonation.

D: Real easy to drink - I could drink these all day and at 2.99 a bottle, you won't go broke doing so.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a very light copper sort of color with a big soapy white head.

S: The nose is incredibly piney and floral with hints of grapefruit citrus aromas. The low gravity nature of this beer doesn't leave much room for malt character, but there might be a hint of bread in there somewhere.

T: Intensely bitter and heavy on the resinous pine flavors. However, after the initial hop blast, the flavor is a touch watery and does not exhibit much else.

M: The body is on the lighter side of medium with a crisp carbonation and solid bitterness.

D: One of the better collaboration beers with that signature San Diego hop character. Nice and easy to drink, but unfortunate that this one will only retain its pleasantness for a relatively short time.

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Photo of ZX6Chris
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Clear light golden yellow with a touch of caramel color. A thin layer of white head. A thin layer of lacing that sticks to the side of the glass.

S-Surprising amount of hop character for a "session" ale. Mostly earthy hops, grapefruit, maybe a little pine.

T-Earthy, a little citrus and a touch of caramel at the end.

M-Light bodied and moderately carbonated.

D-It's not your usual session ale, light and refreshing yet San Diego style hoppy.

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Photo of Xul
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a perfectly translucent golden with some orange highlights, capped by two fingrs of frothy white head. Retention is good as the head recedes every so slowly, leaving light lacing down the glass.

S: Strong piney hops up front, followed by a moderate citrus quality along with some spicy hop notes. Light caramel and mild toasted grains provide a touch of balance in the background.

T: Bitter, resinous hops up front with an abundance of pine flavor, followed by floral hops on the mid-palate and some light citrus - lemon zest and orange mostly, perhaps a bit of tangerine. Some light caramel is evident near the background but piney hops return for a long, bitter finish.

M: Light bodied with moderate carbonation, feels a little too heavy for a session beer.

D: Fairly drinkable but not the most balanced or quaffable pale ale around.

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Photo of augustgarage
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 Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Amber liquid with a soapy finger of ghost white foam. Good retention, rich sticky sudsy lacing.

The aromatics are typified by intense pungent juicy hops - full of tropical fruit (mango, guava, pineapple), citrus (grapefruit/pomelo), and lighter waves of pine and flowers.

Assertive spicy hop bitterness on the palate is balanced by a clean brisk pale malt. Subtle fruit can be noted throughout the flavor profile, but the finish is cutting and dry and suggestive of white tea.

Light bodied, well carbonated, and vaguely creamy.

A crisp, drinkable, lovely APA...and yet fresh, I would say hop-heads only need apply.

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

12 0z. bottle purchased at Green Jug in West HIlls, CA, and enjoyed in a Stone pint tumbler.

This ale is crystal clear, and it has a deep gold color with a slight amber tinge. A gentle pour yields about an inch of roughly textured off-white foam which collapses to a cap about as thick as a stack of 2 or 3 beermats. The foam leaves sticky rings on the glass. Good retention.

I get tons of grapefruit first, along with notes of green tea and something feline. Pungent, floral, resiny. A little sweet malt comes out as the beer warms, but man it has to fight through a metric crap-ton of hops.

Terrific hop flavors, primarily citrus (grapefruit, as in the nose, along with orange peel and a bright lemon note). Both the hop "bite" and bitterness are actually moderate. As a result, the flavors of the hops really stand out. Beautifully dry through the middle. At the swallow, light notes of toasted grain and caramel give this beer a character similar to a dry English bitter. There's a quick aspirin-like tang at the back of the tongue which leads into a lengthy, bitter finish.

Crisp and drying. Light body with a very agreeable level of carbonation.

This beer is like half an IPA in terms of weight and strength, but qualifies as a full-on IPA in terms of hop aroma and flavor. That's an impressive feat. Refreshing, light-bodied, and easy to drink in quantity, at least until palate fatigue sets in from all those hops. Highly recommended for those times when your inner hop-head is fiending for a low-alcohol fix.

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

After reading countless threads on the issue of what is a "session" beer, and hearing Stone was brewing one, I just gotta try it.

Pours into IRS snifter a beautiful clear golden hue. Foam was very appealing with big amounts of foam, long lasting retention, and wonderful sticky lacing.

The aroma is just so good. This is a very hop centered nose, with nuances of grapefruit, tea like hops, light pine, and undertones of lemon. Pretty strong for a American Pale Ale, but looks good so far.

Taste was on par with the nose. Tasting this beer reminded me of Stone IPA. I don't think it would be off the mark to say that this Stone IPA's little brother. Ok, back to the beer. Begins with huge hops; grapefruit and pine being the most prominent and recognizable. Moves to a light grassy bitterness towards the finish with a very light malt backbone.

Mouthfeel was modest, more crisp and dry in the finish if anything else. Its a session brew, so I suppose it gonna be on the light body end of the spectrum.

Drinkability is this beers apex. Immense flavor, lighter ABV, and crisp finish give it a huge drinkability potential.

This was a difficult beer to judge. To me, all signs were point at this being an IPA as far as hops and flavor go. This is a incredibly good beer, and I hope it sees more than just a collaboration bottling.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very clear light orange copper with a huge, frothy, long lasting rocky off white head.

S - Mostly piney hops, a little bit of grapefruit-like citrus and just a touch of sweet malts. Rather simple.

F/M - Mostly hops up front, piney and a little resinous. Not much malts here. A touch of caramel character. Fairly assertively bitter due to the low malt flavors. Medium-low bodied with an ample amount of carbonation. Clean finishing with a light aftertaste of piney hops.

D - Good drinkability, especially due to the firm bitterness and low malt flavors. Quite sessionable (arguably). Overall a good representation of a "session IPA."

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Photo of xhuskr
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a great session beer...had all the hoppy characteristics I enjoy with an alcohol level that won't knock me on my arse.

Appereance: nice amber/red color that was not cloudy
Smell: smelled like a solid Pale Ale approaching an IPA
Taste: the real winner..smooth overall with a mild hop bite to it
Mouthfeel: warm enough to go back for a 2nd
Drinkablity: extremely good for this. Could sit a the bar hanging out with friends with a few of these each day.

If you're not had the chance to try it, do so soon. I've been looking for this kind of brew for a bit now.

on tap at Beachwood BBQ

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Photo of Orangeman
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Stone Brewing's World Bistro & Gardens and it was delicious. It differs from Stone's super hoppy style and was a welcome change. It was extremely fragrant and had some great floral hops on the nose as well as in the flavor while being balanced out nicely with malts. Definitely a sessionable beer and I'd love to get my hands on some more!

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours orange with a light finger of white head, some good lace.

S: Definite hop character, some grapefruit notes, nice nose.

T: Very strong hop character which belies the low alcohol, like a Bizarro Mild. The malt here is very light, almost grainy, but the hop character blasts through with a lot of grapefruit, some cedarwood.

M: Light-bodied, easy on the palate but with a bit of soapy carbonation feel.

D: Nice beer, you get a lot of hop flavour for your 4.2% alcohol, so it should please the hopheads wanting something light.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light amber orange with short, light white head that quickly fades.

Light pineapple "bitter" nose but more restrained than an IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied but nice carbonation and good balance; a bright quality to the mouth that's pleasing.

Flavors are very nice- bitter grapefruit, bold burnt toast and big yeasty biscuit character. Nothing shy about these flavors which makes this a pretty damn nice "session" beer which is generally not my style, in any event.

This one has a big bitter grapefruit finish that's appealing and pretty long lasting. Very decent. Not terribly complex or layered but big bitter, yeasty, toasty flavors and character.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours a crystal clear golden color into my SA perfect pint. About a finger of white, quickly dissipating head is achieved with a moderate pour, that leaves decent lacing.

Smell - An enticing aroma, if I say so myself. An immediate hit of pint, juicy citrus (grapefruit, slight pineapple and orange), and a hop/pine aroma that reminds me quite a bit of Alpine's Nelson. Overall, very impressed with the nose on this. It really does just emanate from the glass.

Taste - Similar to the nose, though not as much in citrus flavor as expected. However, again, the flavor reminds me of Nelson. Resiny pine, a hefty dose of hops, slight grapefruit, and a hint of peppery spices. Not much of a malty backbone, however, it is still damn balanced in my opinion. Pretty impressed with this, seeing as normally, in my opinion, these collaborations are not the best and overly expensive.

Mouthfeel - Medium to lighter bodied, nice crisp carbonation that prickles the tongue, bitter, dry finish.

Drinkability - Damn drinkable. For three dollars a pop (granted the ABV is lower than normal for most of these collaborations), I picked up two and already went through both within two days. I will be picking up more of these fresh - this is a highly quaffable and enjoyable beer. Glad Stone, Ballast Point, and McNair got this right. If this was served in pitchers by me I'd order one for myself. As bill said, if this was available year round I would defiantly pick this sucker up as my go-to beer.

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

Pours a clear golden yellow with a moderate white head. Smells of sweet, fresh hop cones and citrus elements. Very aromatic. Taste is hoppy, and more hoppy with a bitter pine resin finish. Wow, this is a good one! Mouthfeel is tingly from a fine carbonation and a bright bitter/dry hop back. Overall, a great sessionable Pale Ale and at $2.99 a bottle it's a steal. Enjoy it real cold on a hot day. So refreshing, I'll have another, please.

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

Poured into a nonic.

Hard and fast pour yields about three fingers worth of fluffy off white head. The body is a semi-pale golden color and exhibits exceptional clarity. Head dies down to a half a finger cap of foam on top. Chunks of lacing left behind, and retention last throughout.

The nose on this is very nice. Citrusy grapefruit and orange rind hops with a beady note to balance out the hops.

The taste is full of resinous bitter hoppy goodness. I get orange rind, a tad bit of grapefruit, some pine, and spicy tobacco. The hop onslaught is accompanied with a touch of bread flavor. Bitter pine and resin linger.

The mouthfeel is light, well carbonated, and crisp with a bitter and dry finish.

This is very drinkable. A truly stand out beer IMO. It packs a hop punch that is akin to Stone IPA or even, dare I say, Ruination which is pretty awesome for its alcohol content. A hop head's dream session beer. This would easily be my fallback if it was available year round.

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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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