Sunday, September 16, 2012


Ballantine...haven't thought of that word in years, then I just read it last week somewhere. 

At one time Ballantine Ale was the third largest brewer in the U.S. (ahead of Budweiser) and one of the oldest. It was founded in 1850 by Peter Ballentine and later when his sons joined, the company name was P. Ballentine and Sons.  The original brewery site in Newark, NJ was used as a brewing site since 1805.

This was one of the brews we had in our house when I was growing up.  Heck, we had to, they sponsored the Yankees.  I remember Mel Allen, the sportscaster for the Yankees announcing "Baseball and Ballantine" and "Hey, get your cold beer! Hey, get your Ballantine!...Just look for the three-ring sign/And ask the man for Ballantine." After which Allen would advise, "You'll be so glad you did" (from  Interesting that Ballantine wanted to cut costs, so they cut Mel Allen and put in Phil Rizzuto (aka the Scooter) a former Yankee.  I got his autograph on my mitt outside the stadium, along with Jim Bouton the Yankee pitcher who wrote the expose about Yanks on and off the field, and Spud Murray, the batting practice pitcher.  Spud was funny - he said, "I don't know why you kids want my autograph, I just throw goofballs."  Hey, he was walking into the clubhouse door and he was bigger than life.  Mantle and Maris breezed by, not daring to stop.  But I digress.

The genius of Peter Ballantine was evident in his coming up with the three ring sign when he saw the condensation rings on a table.  Anyone who put down their brew of any kind would imitate that and immediately think of Ballantine.  Then to add a bit of meaning to it, they put "Purity, Body, Flavor" each in one of the rings.

I remember the taste of Ballantine and asking about the difference between ale and beer, with the usual answer that ale was stronger.  Few knew the difference between top fermenting and bottom fermenting yeasts.  Ballantine Ale had a very distinctive and strong hop flavor.  It's a shame that they didn't hold up through the 60s, but it has been a long time since then that strongly hopped brews have come to the fore, like today's IPA fever.  Ballantine even brewed an IPA aged in wood casks, a Porter; a Brown Stout; a dark lager; and a Bock beer.  They also brewed higher ABV specially aged ales and barleywines for internal distribution, much like our craftbrewers do today.  It's a shame that this diversity in U.S. brews was blown away by the lager producers.

It's is now owned by Pabst, but brewed by Miller under contract.

Some descriptions of the taste of the current brew are at:
I remember the taste being as what the last 2 posters, CaptnJack and the one before him, described, especially the tinniness and hoppiness.  I'd have to taste it again to see what other flavors they describe correlate to my memory.

Lots more of great info and pictures at:

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