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 acurtis
1/5  rDev -67.8%

Photo of spycow
3/5  rDev -3.5%

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -3.5%

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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Photo of BEERchitect
3.18/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thought it was pretty good when I thought it was a Pilsner. Now that I have learned it's a Pale Ale, I changed my mind a bit. Has a nice blend of pilsner (tasting) malts with a lightly grainy body (which is allowed in a pils). The hops add an earthy, spicy character after the skunky hop aroma subsides. The body never really reaches medium or full proportions. The hops never reach citrus levels, although there is a light green apple, light lime flavor. The malts are not really caramelized or mildly toasty. Anyhow, I'm going to pretend it's an averagely brewed pilsner.

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

Photo of zeff80
2.11/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A - Poured out a clear, fizzy, golden-yellow color with a fizzy, bubbly, white, one-finger head. No lace at all.

S - It smelled of skunk and corn. Not pleasant.

T - It tasted of corn, grasses and faintly of caramel. Pretty bland and tasted nothing like an APA.

M - It was weak and thin. A light bodied ale.

D - Not a very good brew. I tried it hoping for a classic, but it fell short of that.

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Photo of oberon
2.31/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Hey its $.89 cents so I grabbed it and its America's largest selling ale....hmmm Iam guessing its not but hey who knows.It had a decent pour light gold with a 1/2 finger white head that was gone rather quickly but left a mass on top,light skunkiness from the damn green bottle and some toasted grain no trace of hops though to be found.The beer tastes mass produced somewhat cooked and vegetal-like goes down a little harsh made me wince a little going down.Eh wont get it again even if free but its an old brand glad I can say I tried it anyways.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +22.2%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.47/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light yellow color, with a short white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains light caramelized malts, a good amount of hops and some citrus.

T: The taste starts out with a light malt sweetness followed by flavors of citrus and caramel. Then a decent hops presence comes in to provide some balance. The malt character is a bit on the thin side for the style. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not filling at all, mild kick, decent representation of style, for an inexpensive alternative this beer isn't a bad choice, but over all there are a lot of other beers in the style that are better.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
1.5/5  rDev -51.8%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.89/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.09 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, light golden-toned body with a half-inch head of white foam.

Smell: A full sniff of coarse skunkiness as soon as I twisted off the cap. Let's give that a moment to trail off. After that's had a moment to waft away, it's mainly grassy-scented hops ahead of the lightly malted barley.

Taste: Faintly sweetish, soft barley flavor. Grassy hops with a slight, slight hint of lemon. Modestly bitter. Finishes clean, crisp.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation, though lively textured.

Overall: "It's got that golden flavor, true ale flavor." It's a bit sad such a famous beer has been tanked, it's quality diminished as the brand has been shuffled from brewery to brewery, eventually arriving at such a pitiful state. Ah well.

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Photo of Jason
3.45/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very thing yet sticky white lace, clear pale yellowish golden hue. Faint flowery and citric aroma with hints of grain. Crispness gets lost a bit in the moderate body, citric rind flavour and ample bitterness shows that the hops are there and want to be noticed. Malt flavour is a little weak with some sweetness, some residual sweetness in the end with a lingering rind hop flavour clean the palate.

For $5.00 a six-pack of 16 oz cans this is not too bad. Come August when it is 99*F with 100% humidity this may be a beer I resort to.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.8/5  rDev +22.2%
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 paulish
3.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of johnnnniee
3.13/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up on a whim, it says on the label it is the best selling ale in America so it should be good right?
Pours a really pale golden color with a thinnish white head that spends almost no time atop my beer. Smells of straw, honey, corn, skunk hints of earthy hops. Taste is a little sweet with a grainy edge and a faint hop bite. Has a bit more fruity character than a macro lager but is otherwise very similar. Medium to thin body, sweet grainy mouthfeel, crisp carbonation. Easy drinker, but certainly nothing special. The best part of this beer is the puzzles under the caps.

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Photo of InspectorBob
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

Photo of stakem
3.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ballantine XXX America's Largest Selling Ale with a 3 ring logo boasting purity, body and flavor. Date stamped on the bottom of the can is 7/26/10.

Poured from a green can into a pint glass it appears a light yellow color that is pretty clear except for the faint light colored particles floating around stuck in suspension. Initially poured with more than a finger of fizzy white big bubbly head that receeded to almost nothing pretty darn fast. Nose is a mixture of yeasty sulfur and stale hops minorly reminescent of grass and herbs. Taste is grainy upfront with a bunch of residual sweetness and a faint flavor of herbal hops that doesn't quite provide enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness. Medium to light feel is a bit heavier than I expected. Moderately high level of carbonation that rises through the body of the glass and fizzels away at the surface. Very faint grainy flavor is left in the mouth after each sip that is somewhat reminescent of corn with a touch of bitterness. There is a bit of a chlorine character about this brew and the alcohol starts to creep in on you.

This isn't a beer I would try again, in fact I think I gave myself a headache trying to smell and taste more than what this beer had to offer.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
1.68/5  rDev -46%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Appears a light golden tone and forms a large white head leaves fine lacing behind on the fluted glass. Aroma is of some semi skunked herbal toned hops with a touch of fruitiness among light toasted grain and an adjunct mix of corn and rice that's evident. Taste is strong with a cloying sweetness adjunct ridee with evident alcohol presence and a very low bitterness touch of mineral character and her skunked hops. Mouthfeel is light bodied with fizzy carbonation. Drinkability some have a sentimental outlook on this brew not me...nothing classic about it.

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Photo of ejimhof
2.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -3.5%

Photo of Billolick
3/5  rDev -3.5%

Photo of jwc215
3.06/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured yellow with fairly high carbonation and a two-finger head that diminished to about half the size - fairly well-retained. Left some lacing.
The smell was thin - some sweet malt and only the slightest hints of any hops.
The malt was a bit on the sweet side. The hops were barely noticeable. It was a bit watery, but overly thin - for a macro. Nothing special going on, but nothing really offensive, either.
It was fairly clean and refreshing. Some creaminess emerged.
Fairly smooth and easy to drink. However, it really wasn't much of an APA - reminded me more of a cream ale perhaps. Anyway, there's nothing great about it - very basic. A bit too bland for me. But, again - nothing offensive - and not a terrible choice for 4 bucks a six-pack.

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Ballantine XXX Ale from Pabst Brewing Company
3.11 out of 5 based on 308 ratings.
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