Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

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

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 376 |  Reviews: 270
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?

 605 characters

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

Found this after hunting for it, sold in single 12 oz. bottles only.I grabbed three. Collaboration and complex indeed.

It pours well carbonated. Golden color, white short lived head. Little spot lace.

Aroma starts out the nose like opening a bag of hop pellets and sticking your face in.

Taste the sweet malts up front followed quickly by the hop bite of bitterness, pine and citric.

The mouth is left a hop dry though a coat of hop bitter bite oils the rear and lingers.

If you enjoy a complex beer this beer is a very drinkable brew. So much flavor at only 4.2%abv is very well done. A true Craft Beer.

 609 characters

Photo of MrDanno96
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours golden with a finger of foamy white head that mostly dissipates after a few minutes.

S: Smells like fresh hop pellets mixed with a nice dose of resiny pine. I would expect nothing less from a Stone/Ballast Point collaboration.

T: Spot on here with a nice sweet malt backbone blended nicely with a strong dose of earthy hop bitterness. Some pine and a touch of citrus sneak in.

M: Medium bodied with a good bite of carbonation and bitterness in the finish.

D: I am impressed that they got this much flavor out of 4.2%. Truly a great session beer. Too bad you won't be finding this in sixers anytime soon.

 617 characters

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

Fluffy 1.5 finger head fades slowly with a slight lacing over very hazy golden orange color.

Nose of some light fresh hops, a touch of musty hop resin, hint of pine, citrus, and grapefruit, and that's about it.

Taste is light, a slight hint of malts just to hold the beer together. mostly light hop flavors, some grassy herbal hops, a bit of spicy hops, hints of citrus, musty hop resin, and a slight chewy mineral candy like flavor, almost like a seaweed. It starts to get kinda bitter and a hint of astringency. As it finishes the bitterness builds a bit as it dries. It dries off quite a bit, leaving more of the hop resins, otherwise a nice crisp finish.

Mouth is light and crisp, with good carbonation.

Drinkability is pretty good. It drinks lighter and has a nice dry finish, not off flavors or sticky feel. The only issue I find is that the astringency gets a little high for how light the beer is. IMO a bit more malts to balance that would have worked a bit better.

 978 characters

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.

 851 characters

Photo of BarrelO
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Light orange body. Big white head leaves lots of lacing.

S: Lots of citrus, pine, and tropical fruits. Very nice.

T: This is not so nice. Unrelenting bitterness that makes it hard to pick out any hop flavors. Lots of grassiness. Whatever malt character exists is completely drowned out by the hops.

M: Crisp and medium-bodied. Not sticky like other hop bombs.

D: It's not bad overall, but I don't really see the point. It's too over-the-top for a session beer, and it's too boring for anything else. Recommended for extreme hopheads only.

 584 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains grassy hops, citrus and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with a strong burst of floral hops bitterness. The some mild sweetness comes in from flavors of citrus and caramel. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and creates a good balance. The after-taste is hoppy.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, very good representation of style, this is an excellent hoppy and poundable beer worth drinking for a long time.

 738 characters

Photo of Offa
2.88/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is a well-made, but thin, one-dimensional, unbalanced beer of essentially grapefruit with hints of pine and not really anything else, and bitterness that is in of itself not strong but lacking enough sweetness or character to support it. It's hop character is bright and fresh, but one-note and practically all alone. I love some Stone beers, but this, like Levitation, is another loved and supposedly "flavourful" ale for an abv of between 4-4.5% that, in my opinion, really doesn't compare to similar-abv English bitters or other ales, which I find to have A LOT more flavour and complexity.

Anyway, faintly hazy pale amber, it has a medium off-white head slowly shrinking and leaving a little lace.

Aroma is bright, clear, fresh grapefruit and pine, a hint of orange, hint of raisiny malt. Somewhat pleasant for what it offers, due mostly to the juicy, fresh character and seems well-made,it is nevertheless very standard and one-dimensional.

Taste is similar, dryish a lot of grapefruit with a hint of pine and a faint yeasty juiciness barely evident underneath. It has faint minerally element. Bitterness is not strong, but unbalanced it is sharp and too dominant for the thin character of this beer. It is very one-note and merely a well-made, fresh, clean example of a standard, basic, uncomplex, uninteresting, largely characterless, one-dimensional west coast style beer. It quickly becomes exceedingly tiresome.

 1,430 characters

Photo of patobandito
3.3/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very light, crisp golden color, very clear. Thin white head with some lacing. Smells very flowery, with not much else on the nose. Tastes mostly of flowery hops, and again, not much else. Pretty good beer, but somewhat unbalanced in my opinion. Would be hard to have more than a couple at a sitting, so calling it a session beer seems to be a bit of a misnomer.

 369 characters

Photo of Stunner97
3.3/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured with a very thing white lacing then faded quickly off and was amber in color with moderate carbonation. The beer had floral hop notes there on the nose but nothing crazy. Overall in flavor this beer was very one dimensional and really didnt blow me away in any direction. Showed just bitter hop tones with less the impressive malt tones and just kind of bland and simple, inoffensive but simple. Mouthfeel was very light and soft. The drinkability was okay on this beer but just nothing amazing overall. Its just kinda simple and lacking that overall wow that you get with a lot of the different stone products i have tried in the past. Basically if you were looking for a very good session ale this is a very much weaker beer then levitation which i would recommend much higher. To me considering price as well this beer was sort of a miss just nothing to go crazy for.

 882 characters

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

Starts off with a nicely structured head of bubbles which actually stays for a little bit. The color is a light golden orange with a touch of haze, but not enough to block out the view of the carbonation.

Grapefruit and pine assail your nostrils. The massive hop aroma tells you that Stone and Ballast Point are at work here. I don't know enough about Kelsey McNair (the due who won Stone's homebrew comeptition) to know if this is his style as well. If you're a hop head then you'll be in heaven from the smell alone.

The taste follows the smell for the most part. The grapefruit becomes more bitter than citrus and the pine is more like pine tar than pine needles. There is some serious malt backbone to it as well, giving the beer some needed balance. Perhaps its the bitterness adding to it, but I'd describe the malt as sourdough. And there's another slight pick-up in there of rosemary. Mmm, rosemary sourdough bread. Yum.

The bitterness is really sharp, but it's not one of those that sticks around forever, forcing you to eat something strong to knock it out, unless you're one of those uber-hopheads that really love that.

From the punch of the flavors you'd expect a bit stronger, but this is designed to be a session ale and, as such, allows you drink them on after another. I'd probably get sick of the massive hop feel after two or three though.

 1,362 characters

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

Poured into a standard pint glass a clear lighter copper/bronze shade with a well defined one finger white head atop.Big grapefruit rind packed in the nose,really fresh and it jumped out at ya,I deteced a little mineral in there as well.Sharp hoppy flavors hit the palate with a sweet biscuit malt base thrown in,it doesnt hold up to the hops though.A little prickly in the feel but this a hop heads dream here,big hops,and very quaffable,this is a cool beer.

 459 characters

Photo of Kanyon22
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into my Murphy's tumbler pint glass.

A: Pours a hazy dull orange color with a super frothy head that is just sitting there doing nothing, which is quite amazing.

S: Citrusy grapefruit with a piney resiny, typical west coast hopped beer smell. Wish I could smell some malts but hops really dominating nose, which isn't a bad thing.

T: Starts out smooth almost lager like, then hits you with a nice zip of the citrus hop and has a pungent clean bitterness at the end. I know at 4.20% abv. the grain bill would be low, but this one seems none existent compared to the hops. Nothing but hops, hops and more hops, which is okay but after your palate is numb to the hops there really is nothing to keep you interested.

M: It sits on the light side of they style verging on watery. It also seems to be lacking carbonation, also has a slight resiny piney coating in the throat.

D: Its an easy drinker for sure at 4.20% abv. but after hops kill your mouth your left with an easy drinking beer that gets boring really quick.

 1,027 characters

Photo of Florida9
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Lightly hazed, golden amber in color. Pours with a respectable white head that dies down to a patchy surface coating. Leaves some nice lacing on the way down.

S: Toast with a very aromatic mix of pine, citrus, and grapefruit rind. There is a particular "dankness" to the aroma.

T: Exceedingly dry, biscuit base, and like the aroma, there is a strong flavor of pine and citrus. A wave of bitterness comes over the tongue, though this beer is more astringent than bitter. Low malt profile with lots of hop flavor.

M: On the lighter side of medium with appropriate carbonation. Dry, with an astringency that seems to increase after each sip.

D: A very nice beer, packed full of hop goodness while going easy on the malt. Certainly sessionable, though I could still see this beer being to much (flavor) for some people. However, at about $3.50 per bottle, I couldn't truly see this being a "go-to" session beer.

 917 characters

Photo of HitokiriNate85
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Yellow-gold with lots of floating particles. Soapy head that forms a thin bright white cap.

S - Mm, things are looking up. Tons of citrus and pine that really jump out of the glass. Light, fresh grainy notes in the background help create an extremely appetizing, fresh-smelling beer.

T - The hop to grain sweetness is really reminiscent of Gumballhead, which is a great thing. Much like the smell, there's a lot of upfront hop flavor. The hop profile does seem pretty similar to Stone IPA. Lightly sweet grain notes come in halfway and almost immediately fade into a lingering bitterness.

MF - Very light bodied, which I think is the intent, but it's a bit jarring and I'm not sure how I feel about it. A nice amount of carbonation at least gives the body a bit of zing going down. I imagine after having a few of these I'd appreciate the feel more.

D - I'm actually torn over this part. I think they managed to brew a really good beer, one that I would buy by the case in a heartbeat--if it was affordable. I bought this just to give it a try, and I paid $5 for a 12 oz bottle of beer that was extremely cheap to make. The whole point of a session beer is to drink it for an entire session. Who can do that at this price? Stone or Ballast Point, please add this to your regular rotation and deliver it at an affordable price. Thanks.

 1,342 characters

Photo of hosehead83
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz. bottle into my Arrogant Bastard pint glass.
Clear, orange-gold in color, with a short head of whipped eggwhite foam.
Aroma-Big piney and citrusy hops-wonderfull!
Taste-Whoah! What happened? Seems like only "half" a beer. Fresh hop leaf flavor and bitterness leads to a very clean and dare I say it (watery) finish. Flavor is of a watered-down IPA or a hopped-up macro-brew. Session ale? 5 or 6 percent ABV is not too high in my book for a session ale. A little malt bill for substance and balance would have gone a long way here. I don't think anyone would have minded a point or two of higher ABV.
Overall, a nice looking and beautifully aromatic beer, but lacking where it counts the most, in taste and flavor. All that being said, I love these brewery compilations, they are always fun and interesting to try. Keep 'em comin'!!

 849 characters

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

Lightly hazed orange color with a thick head that drops to a soapy sheet. Smells beautifully hoppy...spicy orange and grapefruit rind and a tangerine sweetness. Very green and fresh. First sip is surprisingly mild and bitter. The dankness of a good, quality, hefty dose of hops is present full force, but there's a certain lack of "low end", so to speak. Green and grassy with a bit of fresh grain lingering below the surface. Watery citrus and pine. Light bodied and astringent, drying the mouth with bitterness while coaxing me to take another sip.

The aroma is great, but the flavor - while tasty - is a little too much like they watered down a very hoppy IPA. Still, an interesting session beer that I do believe I could drink a few of...

 743 characters

Photo of Reagan1984
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed a couple pints of this last night at Lord Hobo in Cambridge. I am happy that this beer turns out to be my 1,000th review. Stone is one of my favorite brewers and this style is something that I am seeking. Highly hopped APA's with lower ABV... This is in the category with Half Acre Daisy Cutter for me. Both great beers.

The first thing I am going to mention is that this beer will visually get a 5 in my book. It's the perfect looking beer. The head, color and incredible lacing were all just perfect.
1 ½- 2 fingers of creamy white head sit atop a light orange amber colored beer with a sunset type brightness to the color. The lacing was absolutely perfect and provided a map of rings as to my journey through the glass. My wife was laughing at me as I showed her how perfect it was. Yep, I'm a beer geek.

Aroma was bright and fresh. Mostly citrus notes and very floral. Just awesome. A beer you sit and smell for a couple minutes before even taking a sip.

So, how do we convince Stone to make this beer available all year-round?
Floral Citrus flavors explode in your mouth with a perfectly balanced cracker, bready malt flavor. Definitely hop focused, but there is just such a give and take here that works perfectly. Just fantastic.

Crisp refreshing mouth feel and an overall sense of freshness. Medium bodied and both dry and oily if that can happen.

Just a joy to drink. I'd consider placing a tap in my home for this. Right up there with Daisy Cutter as a great beer dancing on the line between APA & IPA

 1,527 characters

Photo of geokills
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing noticed after popping the cap on this bright golden ale is its citrus fresh and hoppy aroma.

Pouring quite clear and producing a respectable cap of white finely foamed head that settles with moderate retention, the taste is foreshadowed well by the pungency of the aroma. Indeed, this is bitter, dry even, though all the while maintaining a fairly light posture best served cold. Definitely worth a try (in fact, this is my second one!). Even if you may not end up loving it, it is a unique offering that serves up something different!

 552 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A light touch of orange with yellow around the edges makes up the this very pretty looking beer. It looks like a bitter bomb str8 out the gate. A hard pour yielded about a 1/2 inch of semi firm white stuff that settled into a cap. Nice spots on the glass.

Wow, San Diego never smelled as good as this one (i'll admit, never been to the west coast) The smell burst out with hops and alot of em. Bitter hop scents with a bunch of pine and citrus including lemon and the other usual suspects. The malt, well it hardly makes a dent, wonderful scent. Excellent!

From the nose, I knew this would be a treat. Im greeted by a dousing of hops, hops overload, they really cramed them in here. Citrus and pine up front, they really run neck and neck. In short, grapefruit, mango, pine, lemon and some malts again barely make a dent. Hop forward.

Feel is bitter, but not a palate crusher, it's no hopsickle in other words, but boy is it bitter. Light bodied with a very nice amount of carb to keep the aliveness going. While big, the bitterness does not stick around the mouth forever like the certain moyland product mentioned above.

I am really into session beers and I think I found one of my favorites, since recently turning into a semi hop head (i hate using that term) this fills both of my needs. Flavorful and not dangerous. If one of these breweries does not take this recipe and run with it, it would be a travesty to the beer world. Please Stone or Ballast Point (both who distribute to PA), please run with this one in the future.

 1,592 characters

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.

 1,139 characters

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.

 743 characters

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.

 647 characters

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.

 517 characters

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!

 620 characters

Ballast Point / Kelsey McNair / Stone San Diego County Session Ale from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 376 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.