Ballantine XXX Ale | Pabst Brewing Company

308 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 308 |  Reviews: 169
Photo of davecharlie0
5/5  rDev +60.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer, I hope they plan to increase distribution.

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Photo of Tgal92
5/5  rDev +60.8%

Photo of kiwibrew
5/5  rDev +60.8%

Photo of RichardRambone
4.82/5  rDev +55%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75


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Photo of asubers
4.52/5  rDev +45.3%

Photo of Daniel_Starzec
4.5/5  rDev +44.7%

It's a good beer to just sit and relax with. It's got a bitter kick to it and it's perfect to relax after work

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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 RBorsato
4.42/5  rDev +42.1%
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 jeffduyedi
4.42/5  rDev +42.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of mmmbeer
4.34/5  rDev +39.5%
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 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 Schmidts
4.26/5  rDev +37%
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%
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 +34.4%
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 JoKo
4.12/5  rDev +32.5%
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 +32.2%
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 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 yankinoz
4.02/5  rDev +29.3%
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 +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 bonbini26
4/5  rDev +28.6%

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 Loco_Joe
4/5  rDev +28.6%

Photo of BJC
3.94/5  rDev +26.7%
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%
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 +24.1%
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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Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
3.11 out of 5 based on 308 ratings.
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