Ballantine XXX Ale
Pabst Brewing Company

Ballantine XXX AleBallantine XXX Ale
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American Blonde Ale
Ranked #787
Ranked #47,550
3.11 | pDev: 22.19%
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States
Ballantine XXX AleBallantine XXX Ale
View: Beers
Reviews: 175 | Ratings: 324 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Bouleboubier
3.92/5  rDev +26%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

(12 oz brown bottle, OCT2119 - that's today!... purchased cold sixer... poured into 14 oz mug)

L: polished-clear, yellow-gold liquid; curiously pretty, tight, snow-white foam cap, topped with florets of bubbles; slow recede... actually several rings of lace, top-to-bottom

S: a bit like an extra bready adjunct lager, with hints of golden dinner roll, orange oil, grass... lightly-perfumed corn overtone dominates as it goes; decent intensity

T: cereal meal, cream ale-like foundation with a mild, but relatively-pungent floral hop essence; mildly grassy and corn-y aftertaste... by the second sip and beyond, subtle peppery spice and lemon notes in the aftertaste, mellow lightly-toasted corn bread hanging in the middle; relatively dry overall

F: actually kinda creamy: soft carbonation lending a delicate burst upon each sip, backed by a slight pudge on its light body... bouncy drop to its finish, mellow sizzle going down, subtle residual viscosity... clean but not quite lager-dry

O: last had this at least 10 to 15 or so years ago; sipped from a green bottle... surprised how relatively flavorful this is; needed a regular fridge swill for the week and this'll certainly serve that purpose well... I may even get this again, 5.99/pk ain't too shabby (1588)

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Photo of jrc1093
3.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by 8/26/19

Pours a clear golden straw with a few fingers of densely frothy white head; very good retention recedes slowly to yield a fairly thick wall of consistent lacing and ultimately, a paper-thin cap and slight collar.

Aroma opens with light grass and some herbal hops segueing to bits of earthy straw and a more focused (but still faint) malt presence fleshing out corn and various grainy tones; very quiet, but reasonably balanced and definitively inoffensive.

Taste follows the aroma, with maybe just a tinge more malty, grainy grit alongside some sweeter corn notes; grass, vague hops, and any herbal tones are relegated more to the background.

Mouthfeel shows a light-medium body with carbonation on the lower end of the spectrum; a nice active prickle maintains across the palate, though fades quickly into the finish; reasonably leveled, and has its own small spark on the tongue.

Light, causally enjoyable, and about as inoffensive as an AAL-level blonde can be; couple that with a respectable impression of flavor, and I’d probably prefer it over a large share of light lagers.

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Photo of Tantonys
4.25/5  rDev +36.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've been drinking Ballantine XXX Ale for 40 years or so,
since my teens when they sold it in quarts and 16oz returnable bottles.
Goes down really well!
It's the Brewer's Gold hops is what makes it this domestic brew really stand out. Nice bitter and quite floral.
Ballentine IPA was/is basically the same thing with oak-chip flavor added.
A beer before its time. I wish I could still find it, released occasionally now.
Ballantine XXX Ale is an Awsome American Classic!

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Photo of Mikie02835
2.85/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This ale powered America from the thirties to 80’s. there was no craft beer but there was Ballantine and Ballantine ipa. the Ballantine ale is still the best after lawmowing on hot ale there is. they finally put in brown bottle which deskunks the brew. if money is an object this is your ale

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Photo of VoxRationis
3.71/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Decanted from a 12 oz (355 ml) bottle into a conical pint glass; bottled September 25, 2017.
A: Pours a clear dark straw color with a one inch, white head, limited retention, but significant lacing down the length of the glass.
S: Aroma is grains, particularly corn, dark bread rind, pepper, and grasses predominate.
T: Dry. Flavors mirror the aroma. The limited bitterness complements the sweetness of the corn.
M: Light to medium bodied with light carbonation.
O: Really a decent drinkable ale.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.62/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a narrow pint glass: color is straw, transparent, moderate effervescence, head is bright white, head presents 1/2 inch thick then dissipates to ring, some spot lacing on the glass.

aroma is grain, corn, general adjunct, maybe some grassy hops.

Taste is similar to the aroma, a little sweet grain, corn, adjunct, grassy hops.

Mouthfeel is moderate, good carbonation, actually not overly crisp.

Overall a good ale, a little sweet on the corn side, but some actual moderate hoppiness.

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Photo of bullwinkle88
3.71/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

This is as beer as beer gets. A nice legacy beer that is getting harder and harder to find but I appreciate Pabst still churns out for its fans. I have seen bigger brands face the chopping block, thus I drink Ballantine and appreciate it knowing it likely won't be around for ever. That said this isn't a mind blowing beer. Its relatively sweet with a little bit of an alcoholic tang on the back end. Fair amount of carbonation and more flavor than some of its higher priced counterparts. This is one of those beers that penalizes you if you let it get too warm so drink it quick. I drink this bottled as I have not seen it canned for years. This is a completely different animal than the Ballantine IPA in both character and price so don't be fooled however to be around this long they have done something right and if you're cleaning out your garage or doing yard work this beer will make a worthy companion. Also, this was my grandfather's beer and he was the man, so this is a great brew based on that alone.

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Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
3.14/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Look: Consumed out of the bottle so I won't comment on the look, although I did notice a lot of floaters through the glass.

Aroma: Skunky. Sweet notes of creamed corn and thick, syrupy honey. I've honestly smelt worse. Mild hints of grass and roasted grains.

Taste: Sweet notes of roasted corn, honey, and slightly tart, grassy, pleasantly skunky hops. Vaguely bitter on the aftertaste.

Feel: Syrupy. Extremely thick for a 4.85%er, but it's tolerable.

Overall: Surprisingly not as horrible as I expected. I would buy this again, but only because it's a bargain at $2 a 40oz. For malt liquor (I don't consider this an American Blonde Ale) this is just about as good as it gets.

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Photo of davisrs
4.29/5  rDev +37.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This was my go to brew of the late 1960s when they were the largest brewing company in the US and Blatz was the main beer offering in Michigan. The numbers above are from memory 40 or so years ago.
I have been trying to get my hands on some cans or bottles of the restart Ballantine by Pabst for about a year to no avail.
In the mean time, I have settled on Sierra Nevada as my brew of choice for crisp refreshment.
There are similarities, but I wish I could taste test them side by side!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.28/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

"America's largest selling ale" ...whatever that means.

Nabbed a 40oz brown glass screw-top bottle at a dodgy Mexican bodega in Brooklyn, NY. Best before: Nov 21 16. No ABV is listed on the label. The only style/categorization info from the label is "ale." (Pabst's website offers little more than that.) A little more research into the history of the brand reveals this had an English tax category of 30 shilling, and that it's top-fermented. I guess I'll approach it as an (bastardized) English ale?

HEAD: Soft and fluffy, with a nice complexion and consistency. Thick and coating. Frankly, it looks great - this is what a classic frothy head should look like, and the off-white colour is right on point. Retention is excellent (~10+ minutes), and nice (albeit inconsistent) lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head slowly recedes.

BODY: Clear blonde of average vibrance. Clean, lacking any visible yeast particulate or hop sediment.

Well-carbonated based on the appearance. Frankly, it's an apt appearance for what I'm assuming is a budget attempt at an English pale ale. I confess I didn't anticipate such a good appearance in a 40oz format brew whose brand is owned by Pabst.

AROMA: Honeyed malt, grains, blonde/pale malt, pleasant floral hop character, hints of nectar, some malty sweetness...this is quite appealing, actually. I detect no overt adjunct and it doesn't seem like the usual syrupy sticky fare you'd expect in a beer sold in this format at this price (regardless of style). I even think I find some specialty biscuit malt, and the yeast strain parses as English to me (of course, I'm probably wrong).

Aromatic intensity is average. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to the first sip.

TASTE & TEXTURE: This is a hell of a lot better than I anticipated...honeyed blonde/pale malts, floral hop character, nectary flowery notes, and a decently balanced malt sweetness. It flirts with a syrupy mouthfeel but keeps its thickness mostly in check, avoiding that pitfall neatly. Carbonation is right on the money (okay, it's a bit high if we're nitpicking), mouthfeel is aptly medium-bodied and approachably soft, with a complementary smoothness and wetness that makes it almost refreshing. Specialty English biscuit malt and an undertone of graininess keeps it interesting, lending it more character and depth of flavour than I'm accustomed to in beers at this budget tier.

Sure, it's not the most complex English ale I've tried, but it's well built for what it is and I find it surprisingly well balanced. Unlike many 40oz beers in this price range (many of them malt liquors), this won't be a chore to take down. In fact, I look forward to it.

The coating mouthfeel does verge on buttery, but luckily it stops short. When prompted, some drinkers may observe a green apple flavour that could be argued to be an off-flavour; for me, it's so muted it hardly matters.

No overt faults, no problematic adjunct (I don't mind the mild corn-like sweetness), no egregious flaws. While the balance isn't perfectly dialed in and it could use a lot of improvement in terms of intricacy and depth, there's a lot here to like.

OVERALL: A surprisingly drinkable gem of a budget brew, Ballantine XXX is a surprisingly competent expression of a bastardized English ale, boasting the kind of hop profile that would have impressed the average beer drinker in the 1970s. I imagine many reviewers will shit on this merely because they know the brand is owned by Pabst, but if we're giving credit where it's due I have to say this is well worth trying - and the more than reasonable price is a bonus (though price has no bearing on my rating).

Often, people wonder why someone would buy and try budget beers they don't anticipate will be good; this is the kind of unexpected treasure I'd point to as an example of why giving every beer a chance no matter its marketing or brand ownership sometimes works out for the best. For me, the softness of the mouthfeel alone makes this well worth trying.

Low B- (3.28) / WORTHY

12.10.16: I keep coming back to this beer; the price to quality ratio is tough to beat. $3.50 a 40oz screw-top bottle in Brooklyn.

The aggressive overcarbonation is troublesome but it does give this a cidery crispness. More full-bodied than most budget beers, with a nice balance though it's a simple shallow brew across the board.

Better than it has to be to compete with other brown bag 40 oz swill, Ballantine XXX is a surprisingly competently executed gem. Give this to your friends in a blind tasting and tell them it's a new lager from Jack's Abby. See how many criticize it.


03/09/17: I keep coming back to this as a solid go-to budget brew. $3.49 even in hipstery Williamsburg(h)...

Drinkable with no faults or off-flavours, including the usual metallic and watery pitfalls. It's simple and a bit insipid, but what's not to like?


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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.01/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle

Pours clear gold yellow with a creamy white foam head. Smells very green and slightly skunky with some fresh cut grass, herbaceous earthy pine, mild citrus, with an underlying vegetal straw grain note. Tastes very green and grassy with an herbaceous vegetal note reminiscent of string beans and pea pods, a unique woody sawdust grain note, leafy pine, with mild lingering citrus fruit. Feels medium-light bodied, creamy with moderate low carbonation. Overall a classic blonde ale.

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Photo of brap
2.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

Got this out for nostalgia's sake since I hadn't drank it for decades. It wasn't as good as I remembered it but then again when I drank Ballantine regularly the alternative was Carlings Black Label so at the time this was a relative treat and flavorbomb.

There were things about it that weren't terrible, at least it has some character. It certainly tastes like a Ballantine and nothing else.

The biggest disappointment was that it no longer had the rebus puzzle bottle cap. Now that made for a thinking man's 40 ozer!

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Photo of KACK1533
4.11/5  rDev +32.2%
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.

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Photo of Urk1127
3.15/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.25

Light orange. Lacing of head.
Smell of slight pine and citrus but soured grains. Taste is the same as the smell. Medium body. Moderately heavy carbonation.

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

A-Pours a straw color with a slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has malt hints
T-The taste follows the nose with a malt flavor
M-A light bodied well carbonated beer
O-A decent lager

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Photo of scootny
3.6/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

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Photo of deansellers
2.89/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

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Photo of rudzud
3.04/5  rDev -2.3%
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

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Photo of bobdrob
4.47/5  rDev +43.7%
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.

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Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
4.1/5  rDev +31.8%
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.

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Photo of lou50rp
4/5  rDev +28.6%

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.

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Photo of dacrza1
2/5  rDev -35.7%

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 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...

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Photo of lobotomy
3.12/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of DagenhamDavis
4.18/5  rDev +34.4%
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.

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Photo of metter98
2.89/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

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Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
Beer rating: 72 out of 100 with 324 ratings