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Ballantine XXX Ale | Pabst Brewing Company

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164 Reviews
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Ballantine XXX AleBallantine XXX Ale

Brewed by:
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States

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

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Reviews: 164 | Ratings: 300
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.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.42/5  rDev +42.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light yellow gold with a wispy white head and good carbonation. Nice balanced earthy hop and light adjunct aromas. The most hops I've ever noticed in a Macro ... esp. anything that comes in a "40"! Nicely balanced light adjunct, some grain, and non-descript hop flavors. Light-medium bodied with a crisp dry bitter finish.

Macro Ale or APA ... your call, but not a bad one either way. I rated it as a top-end macro.

Per Label: Falstaff Brewing Co / Milwaukee, WI.

Tasted: 02/22/07

(Approx $2.50 / 40 oz. green screw top bomber)

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Photo of mmmbeer
4.34/5  rDev +40%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Green half-quart can with a batch code on the side and a freshness date on the bottom; dry-hopped with Cascade and brewed by Falstaff Brewing Co., not Pabst. Pours a light yellow/gold, with medium carbonation and an inch of frothy white head that doesn't really leave any lacing. Fairly aromatic, with light malts, citric orange zest and perhaps some pine. Very flavorful as well, with sweet corn, a minerally industrial twang and a dash of sulfur forming the base, topped with layers of citric, resiny, piney, almost woodsy hops that impart a mild, but noticeable bitterness. Very cleanly fermented, with just a hint of ethanol. Its body is crisp, tingly and dry, but a touch too heavy for mass consumption. This is a great light beer that has become a staple in my fridge. While it isn't really an APA (more of an American adjunct ale), I imagine this is very similar to what pre-Prohibition beers tasted like. Make sure not to drink this too cold, because light beers don't get any more flavorful than this; imagine having Cascade-flavored burps from a macrobrew. While I have not had this out of the bottle, I don't think I ever would because they use green glass. Regardless of whether or not you like light beers, if you find this in the can, buy it, I highly recommend it, if only to see that not all mass-produced beer is flavorless swill.

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Photo of Schmidts
4.26/5  rDev +37.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am tasting this as I write pours a amber color not much head just a little laceing. Smell of Corn and a little hops.Taste is Very Good and refreshing. Very nice feel in your mouth. This a a very drinkable Ale of the type I drank as a kid! Nice Dry finish and it does not fill you up it is a very Pleasant Ale and you could just sit and drink a few of these and really enjoy them.
I highly recomend giving this fine old type American Ale a try, I am glad after all these years I revisited it. Just picked up a case for New Years and Have to up grade the taste to a 5 It is the Perfect Beer when you just want something Smooth and refreshing and very Drinkable to just drink and enjoy!

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Photo of mynie
4.26/5  rDev +37.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

EDIT 1/26/2014
I can't find a speck of information about where this is being brewed now, or if it's recently been reformulated. But since moving to MA I've bought a few sixers of tallboys, and they taste *significantly* different from what I had in the mid-aughts. This seems more of an interpretation of the brand's history, like a perfect bridge between older school (relatively hoppy) macros and the early American IPAs. There's an actual, albeit faint, hop presence. I'd say it's about as aggressively hopped as a traditional Czech pils, only with lightly citrusy English hops.

This was my white whale. When I was little, I loved old commericals. I'd get tapes of them for my birthday. One tape had nothing but beer sports commercials, which included a couple spots for Ballantine. Being young, and therefore being repulsed by the scent of something so inoffensive as Bud, beer ads never really did anything for me. Except, strange enough, this Ballantine ad, which showed the beer being quickly poured into a ballpark cup. It looked tasty.

So, for years afterwards, I searched out Ballantine. Being in the midwest, this was quite tricky. Once I had tracked down a sixer, at a Binny's Beverage Depot, but was turned away because I had brought with me a small child. They can't serve you if you bring in under 21 with you, said the clerk. I think he was just being a prick.

Anyhow, I recently and finally came across some Ballantine, and it's actually pretty darn good.

One of the very finest macro pours I've ever seen, deep dark gold with a large, retentive head and great lacing. Certainly an ale, not an adjunct.

Smells of light, grassy and folar malt and a small hop.

Tastes sweet and grassy upfront, moving into a more floral, less sweet malt in the middle, and ending on dry, bitter hop.

It's simplistic, but it's still flavorful. And sometimes, simplicity is grand.

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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.

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Photo of JoKo
4.12/5  rDev +32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this particular beer into my standard mug.

Appearance: Very golden in color, well carbonated and clear, formed a inch and a half white head. The appearance of this beer was quite peculiar for a pale ale, I'd say it's more of a blonde ale.

Smell: The smell of this one is citrus hoppy notes up front.

Taste: This beer has a very crisp, citrus like taste, the hops are up front in this one. As I take a sip of the beer, it goes from a sharp lightly hoppy citrus to a mild bitterness. The malts are light in this beer, but they are noticeable in the background.

Mouth feel: A very light bodied, crisp, highly drinkable ale.

Drinkability: I'm impressed. This is a definite go-to session beer. This one is definitely ideal for warm weather. I feel this could be one of those "gateway beers" when trying to convince friends that there is more to the world of beer than Bud and Coors light, also at a very affordable price.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.01/5  rDev +29.4%
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 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.

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Photo of BJC
3.94/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once upon a time, at least twenty years ago, this was a great beer. It was the first one that I ever had on draught in Newark NJ in 1973. The current horror is only a poor shadow of its former self, Reviews shouldn't soley consider its present degenerate state, but rather give some tribute to its past glory. It was a contender.

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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.

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Photo of Stunner97
3.86/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Appearance- golden clear yellow with thin white head that quickly fades away, beautiful bubbles stream the glass

Smell- slight grain, malt, and faint hops not a bad nose but not over powering

Taste- hmm the flavor on this beer is actually very nice, im very impressed actually, its got a fair amount of hop on the finish and a nice malt backbone, while the flavor isnt one thats mind blowing in complexity its solid and enjoyable, way better then expected

Mouthfeel- light and good amount of carbonation

Drinkability- very enjoyable and drinkable, could see this being a great and affordable, alot better beer than alot of people would expect and for a macro beer one of great enjoyable flavor, it does its history proud, a session american beer from the time past thats still better than alot still thriving

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

I got this at some New Jersey liquor store, and it was definitely a surprise. It came in a clear 40 oz. bottle, and had XXX written on it, which made me a little cautious, but I sampled it objectively. A hazy gold color, almost no head, 'cause I drank it straight from the bottle. It tasted very good for what it cost. Almost flavored like a cider, it had a clean, dry taste. I wish they sold this in Minnesota, because if there was a ranking for value, this would get a 5.

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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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Made by Falstaff, Wilwaukee, WI but contract brewed at the Lion in Wilkes Barre, PA.

This was one of my favorite beers in art school because they sold it in cans at one of the dive bars I went to, and you could sneak a 6-pack in with you in your bag, and then drink all night with your friends after buying just one beer (which was like $2). But I liked it because it had more flavor to it than Budweiser or Miller or Coors Lite, and there wasn't much more available at the time (at least that I could afford). Surprisingly, it doesn't taste much different now.

It pours a very dark gold, that could actually be called amber, although we tend to think of "amber" beers as being darker. The thin white head drops fairly shortly and it leaves only a few splashes and spots of lace here and there about the glass.

The nose pleasant with a decent amount of grainy malt, some lightly floral but mostly non-descript hops, and a delicate whiff of lager yeast sulphur.

In the mouth it's medium-light bodied and crisp with a standard carbonation.

The flavor delivers a nice, distinctly grainy, gently straw-like maltiness. There's obviously some adjunct in use here, but it's far less than you find in most large-scale commercial beers. The hop flavors are well-entwined, but appear more distinct across the middle and into the finish. It's well-balanced with a firm bitterness that carries through into the finish along with some herbal and mildly leafy hops.

Overall it's a pretty nice beer. Much better than Yuengling, but it's really all about the brand, right?

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Photo of tone77
3.8/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a green 12 oz. bottle. Has a golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of grains, malts, some sweetness. Taste is a pleasant surprise, malts are abundant, however there is a nice hop balance. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall this is a very easy drinking beer and a great value for the price.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.8/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Just doing the Can-Can ...

It poured with a finger's worth of bone-white head that reduced to wisps in no time at all. The color was a bright, light gold with NE-quality clarity. The nose had an interestingly sharp hoppiness to it, not quite as snappy as Saaz, but still sharp. The mouthfeel was medium with a light hop flavor on the tongue. The finish was dry and refreshing. I am a sucker for the "old school" beers and I often take Ballantine to tailgate parties when I cannot find Iron City.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
3.8/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was my grandfather's favorite beer, and I can taste why.They did not have "craft" beer back in the day.
This poured a clear golden yellow with white foamy head. Scent was a touch skunky, so I let it rest a bit before drinking. Surprisingly good despite scent, bready malt, grassy hops a bit "tinny" though, but not bad.

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Photo of LuskusDelph
3.76/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First of all, this is not the same Ballantine Ale that was a premium and well regarded American Ale 40+ years ago...the real Ballantine brewery closed in 1972 and the real Ballantine Ale formula (top fermented and well hopped in bitterness and aroma) only survived into the mid 80's ubder the supervision of Falstaff (which itself eventually closed).

This version of Ballantine Ale is sold by Pabst (and actually brewed under contract by Miller) but the only resemblance to the original is the classic label design. All similarity ends there. It only hints (broadly) at what this beer once was.

With that sad info out of the way, I will say that for the price this is still a decent beer and certainly not deserving of the beer-snob hate heaped on it. It has more character than most big brewery beers even as it has probably one fifth of the hop character of the original brew.

For the price, in times when money is tight, it's a great bargain. Those old enough to remember original Ballantine will agree that it would probably rate a solid A+ from most real beer lovers. The current version certainly falls short of that.

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Photo of pezoids
3.73/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer looked like polished brass as it poured out and it had a very large and creamy head to it. Pungent is a soft word to describe the aroma. It has a distinct and strong earthy, grassy, hop aroma. A few beers have this smell – I’m reminded of Lord Chesterfield’s from Yuenglings.
The flavor is sweet and grainy and has a oiliness to it, along with hints of fruit. The flavors linger and stick to the throat. This is a flavorful light ale which is very drinkable. I like it.

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Photo of thebrood1987
3.72/5  rDev +20%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

It's actually not bad at all. The smell is of some hop and grain. The taste gives you a quick flash of subtle citrus hop right up front and ends with a dissolving hop grain taste. It smells and tastes like a semi watered down Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. That was my first impression on smelling and tasting this beer. Obviously the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has more solid tastier bitter hops and a way nicer malt taste but this really does this trick if you cant afford Sierra. Drinkablity is very nice not filling and lower alcohol content. This is definitely beats out Budweiser, Miller and Coors. This beer seemed like a beer bursting with taste right after I just drank a Miller Lite... but then I guess a lot of beers have more taste than that. But the big 3 all taste the same to me anyways. Probably the only thing I'll drink from Pabst because it has the most hop character out of any cheaper mass produced beer out there hands down. PUT THIS IN A BROWN BOTTLE!

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Photo of thinkbreakfast
3.72/5  rDev +20%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I reviewed this beer based on other cheap macros, rather than on other pale ales. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised.

Appearance: basic light color with a decent head.

Smell: What is this? Hops? yes it is. Surprising balance between hops and malt.

Taste: Again, surprising. Well balanced. Brief malt than a quick hops bite. Finish with interesting sweetness. Probably adjuncts?

Maybe I went into this beer with unfairly low expectations, but it was a pleasant surprise. This will forever be my cheap beer of choice.

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Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
3.1 out of 5 based on 300 ratings.
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