Ballantine XXX Ale | Pabst Brewing Company

BA SCORE
73
okay
306 Ratings
THE BROS
79
okay
Read the review
Ballantine XXX AleBallantine XXX Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States
pabstbrewingco.com

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
306
Reviews:
167
Avg:
3.11
pDev:
21.54%
 
 
Wants:
24
Gots:
32
For Trade:
0
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Ratings: 306 |  Reviews: 167
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 mfgreene
3.75/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of WillieThreebiers
2.67/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

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!

 490 characters

Photo of zaraspook
2.94/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of Abe_Froman
3.09/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

C+ / ABOVE AVERAGE

***
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?

C+ / ABOVE AVERAGE

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Photo of Antc2382
3.46/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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 nostalgias 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 digitalflood
3.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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

The best. NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE!

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Photo of Skellbop
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Botulizard
3.75/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BrewAskew
3.75/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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 CreightonSM
2.58/5  rDev -17%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

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

Photo of TheElectricOne
3.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Photo of AmitC
3.24/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of chicagoish
3.1/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of firkingroovin
2.43/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Photo of StoutBoi
3.19/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

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Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
3.11 out of 5 based on 306 ratings.
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