Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Ballantine XXX Ale | Pabst Brewing Company

161 Reviews
Read the review
For Trade:
Ballantine XXX AleBallantine XXX Ale

Brewed by:
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Blonde Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.85%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-02-2001

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 161 | Ratings: 295
Photo of KACK1533
4.11/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A great heritage beer. Smell is hoppy, taste is hoppy with a slight twinge of malty sweetness. Feels nice on the palate, perhaps too nice. Overall this is a great beer.

 168 characters

Photo of scootny
3.6/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was my go to ale in the days of my youth and meager finances. Back then just over a dollar fifty got you a tasty and refreshing 40 ounces of top quality macro brew. I forgot to check the price when I bought this 40 but is was at there when I was making a craft brew run upstate and I couldn't help going for some nostalgia.

Surprisingly good head, (I was always drinking from the bottle back in the day) with nice lacing. Pale gold color. Nose has some light malt sweetness with a touch of musty citrus. A bit of fusel alcohol and metal. A light floral hop flourish. Taste is as I remember. Light malt body brings a bit of grain and honey sweetness. Clean hop dryness with a firm bitter finish. Light somewhat fizzy carbonation with a light body. If the old drinkability category were still around I' be inclined to go with a quarter point more in the final rating category. Still this is a top tier pocket change brew. Beast the heck out of the "King" when you have only macro brew.

 990 characters

Photo of deansellers
2.89/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I must admit I was disappointed mostly because I was expecting a Pale Ale. After thoroughly enjoying their IPA I was looking forward to this one. This is more of a lager than an ale, imo. A nice lager, as they go, but a pretty poor ale.

 239 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a crystal clear golden hue with a half finger white head that fades quickly to leave a thin wispy blanket and light halo.

S - Aromas of crackery malts, adjuncts, mostly it.

T - Taste is more of the crackery malts and adjuncts, though with a flash of herbal hops and a light light bitter pine finish. The malts are a bit sweeter and sticky, though the finish is nice and lightly bitter.

M - Mouthfeel is crisp, briskly carbonated, a touch watery.

O - Overall, this is not that bad of a beer. The adjuncts and malts are not overwhelming, and the hop profile is light and a touch bitter. Definitely a summertime lawnmower beer.

Serving Type: Can

 680 characters

Photo of bobdrob
4.47/5  rDev +44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beer from my yout'? The local packy regularly stocked the XXX Pale, the IPA, and the lager. I didn't know at the time what an ale was,but it was pleasant enough & the price was always right. Had it at a wedding at a VFW this past august & was impressed. Now, as a nouveau hipster brew this could stand next to PBR as a cool slumming bev, only with flavor & character. A piney afternote surprised & convinced me. As good as Porkslap, Victory, or any other B+ pale.

 465 characters

Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
4.1/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I bought this at my local distributor, one day before Thanksgiving. I give thanks for you, oh Ballantine. Bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Brassy gold color with lots of carbonation coming to the surface. There is a thin white head, less than a finger's width, that quickly collapses into a thin froth on the surface of the beer. Minimal lacing.

Aroma: Gentle malty aroma, as well as a faint metallic smell of tin.

Taste: Not as watery as I was expecting. A smooth, almost hearty taste on the tongue. I can taste the malts, and the hops are there as well, though muted. Slightly bitter on the approach, and there is a definite sweetness on the back end. A slight metallic aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, dry, very clean feel on the tongue. Light, almost medium body with carbonation leaving a lasting impression on the tongue. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Overall: I find this ale to be satisfying overall. It has a sweetness to it that balances well with the malt and hops. It's light, but not overly so. It's slightly bitter, but not overly so. It's a well balanced brew, maybe just a little weak overall, but I like it. On a future edit, I will attempt an experiment by mixing the XXX 60/40 with some Ballantine IPA I have on hand. Another reviewer recommended this strategy as a way to make the ale taste closer to its original incarnation. Stay posted.

Edit: A friend stopped by for a couple beers and he cannot get a hold of Ballantine IPA where he lives (Norfolk, VA). Not only did I give him a bottle (which he loved), but I also mixed my own IPA to the Ballantine XXX: 40% IPA, 60% XXX. And man, oh man, what a good choice that was. I heartily recommend trying this strategy if you'd like to transport yourself into the past. You won't regret it.

 1,799 characters

Photo of lou50rp
4/5  rDev +29%

Good beer for a nostalgia trip.
Nothing fancy, not a lot of taste. What is there is good.
Good for a session or summer yard work.
Every so often I buy a six-pack, sit back and enjoy it.

 185 characters

Photo of dacrza1
2/5  rDev -35.5%

DATE REVIEWED: August 9, 2014... GLASSWARE: Baltika stange... OCCASION: Sharknado with Matt, Jer and Shan--a win!...APPEARANCE: cler golden yellow body; bubbles are consistent; crisp white head that spreads upward with cirrus wisps; smeary lacing... AROMA: funky tin malts--as expected from a 40 oz. bottle--and some banana at the end--mostly wet pennies... PALATE: thin at first; beefy ending; gassy and slick; easy drinking otherwise... TASTE: lemony wheat grass; biscuity and toasted malts reign supreme in this otherwise thin profile...OVERALL: intrigued by its history--and ODB’s proclivity for it, according to song--this 40 oz.er drinks easy and malty with a bit of refreshment to it--but it also is a bit thin and unimpressive in its refrigerated neighborhood, where OE 800 and Mickey’s reside...

 809 characters

Photo of lobotomy
3.12/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Take this beer for what it is and compare it to its peers. Does it hold up when compared to craft brewed beer? No. But it is a good macro beer. Has more hop flavor than others in its class. Has a corny adjuncty finish. It's far from horrible, it isn't the greatest beer ever made either. The beer has its place. Not as good as Yuengling in the macro category, but I'll take it over a Bud or Coors any day.

 411 characters

Photo of DagenhamDavis
4.18/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Ballantine Ale is unique. For me it's a treat and a bit of a rarity, yet it is widely regarded as run of the mill type stuff for many due to its status as a heritage or granddad beer. However, leaving it at this would be a serious oversight of a great American ale.
Ballantine's is an affirmation that real hop flavor existed in beer well before the craft boom, and that heritage beers are not automatically shadows of what they should be. It's clean, refreshing, and has real flavor. I was truly surprised and said 'wow' out loud several times with my first pint can. While it's not quite on the hop level of a contemporary APA, Ballantine really has a similar feel to it. Will try again when I get the chance.

 712 characters

Photo of metter98
2.89/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

A: The beer is crystal clear yellow in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high bright white head that died down, leaving some patches of bubbles on the surface, a miniscule collar around the edge of the glass, and bits of lacing running down the sides.
S: Light aromas of grainy malts are present in the nose along with some slight hints of skunk.
T: The taste mostly follows the smell and I can pick up traces of corn adjuncts along with a light amount of bitterness. There are also hints of skunk and these seem to be most prominent in the finish.
M: It feels light-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There seems to be slight amounts of wateriness.
O: This beer came in a green bottle, so that might explain the bits of skunk that I picked up in the smell and taste of this beer. However, it's not bad for a macro beer and doesn't have much in the way of adjuncts in the smell and taste. It also doesn't seem to be as bland as other blonde ales.

 1,028 characters

Photo of MasterSki
3.55/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

40oz from Bruz. Busted this out to class up a whale tasting. Served in a Cantillon tulip.

A - Big white foam that lingers, leaving behind loads of splotchy lace. Transparent pale golden body.

S - Skunky, courtesy of the classy green bottle. Some herbal noble hopping, but largely evocative of the finest adjunct lagers; doubt anyone can perceive the ale yeast here. Perhaps a bit of cereal grain, and fairly restrained corn character.

T - The taste is surprisingly pleasant, with a mix of pale malt and corn sweetness, and some faint grassy hop. Quite mild, with no obvious alcohol.

M - Pleasant carbonation, medium body, slightly grainy in texture, and no alcohol heat. Fairly refreshing actually.

D - Surprisingly enjoyable once you get past the skunky aroma. I'd much prefer to drink this over PBR or other adjunct lagers, particularly if canned or kegged. Very much a lawnmower beer that wouldn't offend anyone. Not particularly complex, but significantly better than anticipated.

 989 characters

Photo of ProfessorValue
3.6/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this in college (early 80s) but did not recall the flavor. Today, liking the full range of ales, I found and purchased this locally at Finger Lakes Beverage. Ballantine is one of my favorite beers. Sure, it does not have the "punch" of heartier ales, but that's not what this beer is. Instead, it's clean, very dry and light in body. Good for drinking several at a sitting. I always keep a case on hand when it's in stock. Highly recommend.

 448 characters

Photo of beerluvr
3.57/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a rocky snow white head over clear pale golden liquid. Nose is perfumey, a small amount of sharp metallic hop, mixed with light maltiness. Taste is light-bodied, with some more metallic hoppiness, some mouth coating sweetness and some adjuncty flavors as well. Finishes sharp and tangy though a shadow of it's former self and the poor relative to the legendary Ballantine IPA which was phenomenal. A nice, low-priced ale...very drinkable, especially on hot days.

 473 characters

Photo of yankinoz
4.02/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm working from memory of my go-to beer, back when Ballantine brewed in Newark and this really was America's most popular ale. A point to emphasize about xxx is that to my tastes it was far better on tap than in bottles, a bigger difference than I have found in any other beer. Not only was bottled xxx often skunky, it always seemed slightly cooked and a bit thin in comparison. Once I tasted the draft, I rarely went back to the bottles.

From the tap it poured with a good head, although retention was below average. The aroma was floral and fairly strong, though less than from opening a bottle. Lacing? I was too young to care.

Malt came out in in the aroma, mouthfeel and a trace of sweetness, though it finished dry like a pilsner, all qualities less evident in the bottled beer. It was noticeably more bitter than any of the domestic lagers then available, but less than the German lagers then coming in. Overall, a beer that taught me what balance was.

I spent a year in England about then. Obviously the English bitters were different, but I can't say I liked the run of the mill ones better, only certain ones like Abott Ale and just about everything brewed in Yorkshire.

 1,186 characters

Photo of barczar
2.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dated August 12, so about 4 months late.

Pours a slightly hazy golden straw with a solid one inch white head that slowly dissipates, leaving sticky lacing.

Skunk, grain, and corn adjunct form the aroma. Lightly sweet malt is secondary.

Flavor leaves the skunk behind. Grain, lightly sweet, cracker malt, and a hit of floral hops form the flavor profile. Metallic flavors emerge.

Body is on the light side, with moderate carbonation and a touch of astringency.

Can't believe this beer got the ratings it did. Flavor is neutral, aroma skunky.

 545 characters

Photo of Tucquan
3.25/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this on 2012-12-12 in Columbia, PA

A - Clear, bold yellow with a 1.25-finger white head and mild lacing.

S - Lemon, light hop floral, cracker. Not bad. Better than Bud or Miller for sure.

T - Tastes like a somewhat hoppy lager with corn sweetness, lemon and light bitterness. Perhaps leaning towards a Victory Prima Pils but nowhere as sophisticated, bitter, or, well, really not in the same league. Not upleasant though. The green bottle could have been badly skunked. I kept it out of the light and so perhaps did most of the rest of the supply chain since it's evident but barely.

M - Light-medium body and medium carbonation. More body than I expected.

O - It's not the piney / bitter brew I remember from the early 70's in North Jersey. I didn't know what hops were then but I knew I liked the flavor of Ballantine XXX , which I learned many decades later, used hop oil extract. This beer could use some of that but even so, I enjoyed this more than most adjunct brews.

 983 characters

Photo of TwinSox33
3.42/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From a "Half-Quart" 16oz can

A: Golden hued traditional AAL look

S: Milled grains, husky grass.

T: Semi-sweet malts rounded out with a citric hop bitterness. The beer has a crackery presence, and the hops are like a watered down IPA.

M: Slightly above average for the style. Smooth and Creamy.

Very good for a retro Pabst owned (brewed by Miller) product. When you see it for $5-6 for a 6'er do not hesitate to pick some up! When PBR is at the same price point this wins.

 477 characters

Photo of billybob
3.51/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours yellow-gold in color good one finger white foamy head and a nice spattering of lace. smell is on the weak side with a grassy metallic note. taste grassy along with a malt grain and slightly salty and metallic finish. mouthfeel is light with a crisp carbonation. overall a easy beer to drink a good beer for summer and summer time cookouts. or just anytime.

 362 characters

Photo of MoreThanWine
2.5/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

It claims to be America's largest selling ale. Really? I see so little of it I find that hard to believe. Do they just mean it comes in a big can?

Poured an 1/8" white head which faded fast. Clear straw yellow color with almost all the carbonation exhausted. Smells very mildly of malt and grass. Taste mirrors the smell and really is just a pure BMC of a beer. Thoroughly average and forgettable.

 398 characters

Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.25/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Into a nonic:

A: light golden colored body with a large one finger foamy and lumpy white head. Spider-webbed, foamy lacing speckled the sides of the glass. Slowly rising bubbles were seen rising

S: centered around some grains and malts while some floral hops presented themselves in some light fruity notes

T: brought back the grains and malts with a bit of light sweetness. Some corns came out mixed with a slight hop bitterness.

M: medium with light carbonation felt on the tongue. A slight dry finish appeared. I'd say it was mostly drinkable.

O: its not bad, I've got five more that I don't think I'll have a problem to eventually drink but don't think I'd buy this again.

 681 characters

Photo of adjunctjonez
3.92/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ballantine ale is primarily a NE / east coast regional brew. This 2012 version is owned by Pabst, sub brewed by miller. The overall impression is a much hoppier/maltier profile than your average adjunct. I would rate it as one of the best adjuncts available, right up there with Schlitz Gusto. I avoid the green bottles and buy it in tall boy cans to ensure no skunk flavors. Unclear why Pabst does not distro this nationwide as I think it would sell well.

 456 characters

Photo of Clydesdale
3.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a bright, medium golden color. The white head is tall, foamy, and frothy. Retention is solid, leaving a decent spackling of lace stuck to the glass.

S: Some grainy and crackery maltiness in the nose. A medium dose of floral and herbal hops is present. There are also significant sulfur and fruit notes from the yeast.

T: Grainy malts up front, with some light sweetness. A bit of corny flavor, as expected. Hop bitterness eventually builds into something fairly firm, with some herbal, floral, and lemon-soapy flavor. A bit of unclean lager yeast flavor pops up towards the finish to add character.

M: Medium mouthfeel, with average carbonation. A bit slicker on the tongue than most standard American throwback lagers. Still, a bit of a dry finish arrives as expected.

D: This is an interesting beer. I'd be shocked if this weren't actually a lager. I actually found this pretty similar to Yuengling's Lord Chesterfield, though this has a more European hop character. My curiosity got the best of when I picked this up, but at least it's drinkable.

 1,066 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.82/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can sucked right out of the can.

L - I've seen it before, it's clear and yellow.

S - grainy aroma.

T - there's something about this beer that makes me always enjoy it. It's mostly sweet and grainy but it does have a slight bitterness at the end.

F - medium bodied, it's crisp, clean and refreshing.

O - a beer I always enjoy anytime of the year.

 355 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
2.45/5  rDev -21%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I hadn't had this for such along time so I thought I'd give it a try given the limited choices at an Atlantic City casino sports bar. The weekday special was $5.00 for a forty. Price and value went hand in hand.

A- very light, pale golden color. Fast fading head, no lacing.

S- almost aroma free, maybe a touch of sweet maltiness.

T- sweet and malty, no hop bitterness. Is there a mineral taste to that brew, ala Miller beers?

M- lots of carbonation and no texture.

I really wanted to like this, in the end I couldn't even enjoy it. yuk.

 542 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 161 ratings.