Release Ballantine India Pale Ale, Storied 136-Year-Old Craft Beer, Re-Launches in Northeast

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Aug 14, 2014.

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  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,426) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Subscriber

    First brewed in 1878, America’s Original IPA returns in style to select markets

    Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2014) – Pabst Brewing Company, the largest American-owned brewery with over 30 beers in its portfolio, today announced the re-launch of Ballantine India Pale Ale, one of the oldest and most iconic craft beers in the country. The beer will be available beginning in September in major Northeast markets.

    First brewed in 1878 by P. Ballantine & Sons Brewing Company in Newark, NJ, Ballantine India Pale Ale was the only American-made beer that successfully continued the tradition of the 19th century IPAs once Prohibition ended. This was due in large part to the brewery’s steadfast commitment to “Purity, Body, and Flavor”— as exemplified by the three interlocking Borromean rings found on every bottle.

    Ballantine’s brewers were meticulous about ensuring that the beer’s gravity, alcohol content, IBUs, and hopping rates remained consistent well into the mid-20th century. Another unique method that characterized BallantineIndia Pale Ale was a hopping process in which the distilled oils from a hop-and-water mixture were added to the brew, giving the beer an intense hoppy flavor that was quite distinct from its competition. P. Ballantine & Sons was also rumored to have matured the India Pale Ale in huge wooden vats for up to a year in order to help develop the ale’s original flavor.

    In order to replicate the original recipe as closely as possible, Pabst Master Brewer Gregory Deuhs reverse-engineered the beer, ensuring the robust heritage and quality of the 136-year-old brew was properly reflected in the 21st century version.

    “I began this project with a simple question: How would Peter Ballantine make his beer today?” said Master Brewer Deuhs, adding, “There wasn’t a ‘secret formula’ in anyone’s basement we could copy, so I conducted extensive research looking for any and all mentions of Ballantine India Pale Ale, from the ale’s processing parameters, aroma and color, alcohol and bitterness specifications. Many brewers and craft beer drinkers would be impressed that the Ballantine India Pale Ale of the 1950s and ‘60s would rival any craft IPA brewed today.”

    Over the course of two years and over two dozen iterations of five-gallon batches handmade at his home near Milwaukee, WI, Deuhs finally struck gold.

    “Unlike recreating a lost brew from long ago, I had the advantage of actually being able to speak with people who drank Ballantine back in the day,” continued Deuhs. “Their feedback was crucial to ensuring that the hoppy, complex flavor that was revered for over a hundred years was front and center in my recipe.”

    Ballantine IPA will be sold in bottled six-packs and limited-edition 750 ml bottles in major markets across the Northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh.

    Ballantine Background
    • Dry hopping and the addition of hop oil has long been credited as the key to the beer’s unique profile. In addition, a proprietary brewing method ensures that every drop of Ballantine India Pale Ale comes in contact with American Oak, effectively capturing the robust flavor and heritage of the brand. With the reintroduction, an entirely new generation of craft beer enthusiasts will experience what made America’s Original IPA so exceptional.
    • In the 1950s, Ballantine was the third largest brewery in the country, going on to become the primary broadcast sponsor for the New York Yankees. Despite stiff competition, the IPA continued to flourish as its dry hopping process gave the beer an intense, distinct hop presence, unlike anything else available in the United States at that time.
    • In the 1970s, taste preferences changed and American lagers edged out the IPA, a trend that was abruptly reversed with the craft beer movement of the past few years. This increased interest in craft beer gave Pabst the perfect opportunity to bring back America’s Original IPA.

    About Pabst Brewing Company
    In business since 1844, the Pabst Brewing Company is North America’s largest privately held brewing company. Pabst’s portfolio includes iconic brands with deep ties to America’s heritage such as Ballantine, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Colt 45, Old Style, Lone Star, Stroh’s, Old Milwaukee and Rainier.

    Pabst’s decision to re-launch Ballantine IPA after more than 30 years reflects the company’s recent move into the craft beer market where the company will maintain Peter Ballantine’s commitment to Purity, Body and Flavor. For more information, visit

  2. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Zealot (592) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    "Pabst’s decision to re-launch Ballantine IPA after more than 30 years reflects the company’s recent move into the craft beer market...."

    Oh cool. Another BMC creating "crafty" beers that will cater to the PBR crowd.
    Roguer and A2HB like this.
  3. abkayak

    abkayak Disciple (391) Jan 8, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    hope the beers ok..should be good t-shirts anyway
    Pzellot and Glenney67 like this.
  4. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (611) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Does anyone the abv on this beer? Wasn't it quite low for an IPA, around 3%?

    Edit: Nope, just looked it up. Looks it was wood-aged for a year, and was 7.5% abv. I was thinking of Greene King IPA at 3.6%.
    A2HB likes this.
  5. dustinjkline

    dustinjkline Aspirant (224) Aug 30, 2007 Massachusetts

    Looking forward to trying it. Anyone alert Jesskidden yet?
    Streaky likes this.
  6. JCrider

    JCrider Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2012 New York

    Had the latest test batch a couple of weeks ago. It was a pretty un-eventful, but perfectly drinkable IPA. The price point will be what prevents or encourages me to have it again.
    A2HB likes this.
  7. Wolfhead

    Wolfhead Initiate (163) Sep 1, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    What might be the price point? The last time I bought PBR I was wearing flannels and bell bottoms, think I paid $2.99 for a case of those cute little 7oz bottles while listening to Relayer :relaxed:
    Brutaltruth and Sludgeman like this.
  8. PSU_Mike

    PSU_Mike Crusader (782) Sep 6, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Still a ripoff... :wink:
    tkdchampxi and Wolfhead like this.
  9. A2HB

    A2HB Initiate (163) Oct 30, 2013 Michigan

    If it makes it to Michigan I'll buy a pack to try. Assuming it's reasonably priced, it is from PBR after all
  10. JCrider

    JCrider Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2012 New York

    Sorry, didn't specify that I have no clue what the price point will be. I was simply trying to say that if it's priced reasonably I'd definitely have it again. We shall see I guess.
  11. mnredsoxfan69

    mnredsoxfan69 Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2013 Minnesota

    I'm willing to give it a fair chance, assuming it proves popular enough for them to expand to the Midwest. I'm not expecting Hop Stoopid or Saga, but I won't dismiss it out of hand.
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,784) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    For some reason another thread on this topic was deleted.

    The OP provided the link to the article: antine-ipa/14013995/

    In that article/past thread I noted:

    “The IPA uses four different malts and eight different hops, as well as hop oil to finish it off. American oak chips are used in the process, harking back to the oak and cypress barrels used for the original beer.”

    I then made mention that there were two recipes for Ballantine IPA in the Mitch Steele book on IPA.

    From discussions with Bill Pierce I was educated: “From the research I did, the original Ballantine IPA used Clusters, Brewers Gold and Goldings.”

    In that other thread I tagged @jesskidden and asked if he had any knowledge of “eight different hops”.

    To the best of my recollection I re-created my earlier post to the deleted thread here.

  13. RockAZ

    RockAZ Disciple (371) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I would love to try this beer, I remember people talking about it in the '70's in Michigan. Keen to know if PBR invested in the year aging in wooden barrels on this one - odd that the press release mentions it so many times if they didn't plan on making it that way. I see they used oak chips in one article, but I hope a pilot run was done in barrels.

    Reminds me of Pete Brown and his search for the Burton IPA
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,784) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "I see they used oak chips in one article, but I hope a pilot run was done in barrels." I would suggest that the article is 'correct' in that oak chips were/are used vs. aging in barrels. Aging in barrels (or tuns like they did it 'back in the day') is expensive (times costs money; oak tuns/barrels costs money).

  15. Foyle

    Foyle Defender (692) Sep 29, 2007 Wyoming

    Pete Brown is a terrific beer writer. I have read all of his books and highly recommend them for those who enjoy reading travel/history books that revolve around beer. Hops and Glory is a rollicking global adventure that follows Pete and a keg of Burton lPA by sea from England all the way to India.

    His books Man Walks into a Pub and Three Sheets to the Wind are terrific as well.

    Warning: do not attempt reading them without having some beer on hand. They will make you thirsty!
    alexanderplatz, RockAZ and steveh like this.
  16. mnredsoxfan69

    mnredsoxfan69 Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2013 Minnesota

    A few years ago that would have been disappointing to read, but I understand that Cold Spring has cleaned up its act in the past couple of years.
  17. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,815) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    My concerns about that would be put to rest if some of the original fans of the beer just report that it 'brings them back' to the older beer.

    I would like to know why the increase in types of hops, though, just for my own curiosity. Maybe they couldn't contract enough of one type and used reasonable substitutes, or other explanations to that effect.
  18. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (730) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I may be wrong but I pretty sure the IPA in Newark was aged in large wooden vats lined with paraffin wax. The brew had no contact with the wood.
  19. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    Certainly was a gateway beer for me.
  20. JimKal

    JimKal Devotee (469) Jul 31, 2011 North Carolina

    I remember having Ballantine Ale back in the late 60's. I remember liking it but remember nothing about how it tasted. Let us hope this doesn't show up in a green bottle.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,784) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    In the Oxford Companion to Beer, Dick Cantwell discusses the ‘changing’ of Ballantine IPA as it was moved from Newark to Cranston, RI to Ft. Wayne, IL:

    “The oak tanks in which it was aged gave way to lined Cyprus wood and then Stainless Steel…”

    There is a nice history of Ballantine Brewery here:

    “These tanks them-selves were unique, in that they were made of oak. Ballantine IPA was aged for a full year in the wood, a technique unheard of today except for the most artisanal microbrewery. The woody character found in Ballantine IPA was as important to the beer's profile as were the hop oils.”

    It is my understanding that until the move to Cranston, RI (Narragansett) where lined Cypress was used, Ballantine IPA was in contact with oak.

  22. mrhartounian

    mrhartounian Aspirant (206) Nov 23, 2009 Massachusetts

    My grandfather drank it. Is this the one that had the little puzzles underneath the bottle cap?
    chuckstout likes this.
  23. mactrail

    mactrail Poo-Bah (7,237) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,221) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    According to Ballantine's former head of Quality Control in their Technical Division (P. Ballantine & Sons, in the post-Repeal era, was proud of their modern, scientific brewery, so old world "brewmasters" did not run the show, scientists did), John Brzezinski, quote in Lew Bryson's All About Beer July, '09 article, ,Brewed Too Soon:
    *Mammut (correct spelling) was a brand of Brewer's Pitch (probably with some additives that allowed it to be used with higher alcohol beers, since the standard pitch used for lager beer kegs apparently had a low tolerance to alcohol, as well as other quantities that allowed it to be easily and safely applied to large vessels like aging casks, etc.) The pitch, a product made from pine trees, itself gave beer a notable slight "woody" flavor. See this long discussion about the flavor of pitch found in Pilsner Urquell at the turn of the last century or George Ehret's quote in his 25 Years of Brewing - in which he writes of pitch's "....peculiar, although exceedingly faint, flavor for which the ordinary pitch is so highly prized by both the brewer and the drinker".

    There is so much mythology and just plain incorrect info on Ballantine and their ales out there, it is often hard to keep up. I laughed when I re-read the link in your post which clams "Falstaff, bought by Pabst in 1975...". Oh, so that's where USA Today got that piece of misinformation - "Pabst has owned the brand since its 1975 acquisition of Falstaff." :rolling_eyes:

    A simple Google would have turned up numerous legitimate and reliable news sources (wire services, NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune) that correctly notes that Pabst was purchased by Falstaff's parent company, Paul Kalmanovitz's S&P Corp. in February, 1985. S&P (which then owned General/Lucky Lager) had purchased Falstaff in 1975.

    Petty correction of a long ago business deal? Perhaps - but, to me, it shows many of these articles continue to simply repeat earlier articles' errors, without doing any original source research or fact checking.:grinning:
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,221) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    P. Ballantine & Sons brewed a number of ales - their flagship, Ballantine XXX Ale, was a very different product than the one under discussion, Ballantine India Pale Ale.
    It is in brown bottles- at least, the 12 oz. bottle pictured in Pabst's current ad is.

    The so-called "Crown Tickler" puzzle caps were from the Falstaff/Narragansett era (post-1972), continued after Falstaff was folded into Pabst during the 1990s. All the Ballantine ales from Falstaff (XXX, IPA, Brewers Gold, etc) had the puzzles at some point, as does the current Miller-brewed, Pabst marketed Ballantine XXX Ale.
    sbb32, fmccormi, BradenMK and 2 others like this.
  26. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,164) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Missed this first time around due to none of my friends drank fine beer back then (hey we thought Molson was fine beer back then). Hope this actually is similar to original, and that some of the other old timers here can comment if it is or isn't. Definitely looking forward to trying it.
  27. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,869) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    It wasn't? :grinning:

    I have fond memories of enjoying the Ballantine XXX when I was first getting into beer, so I'm hoping this resurrection may prove successful.
    chuckstout, azorie and cavedave like this.
  28. JimKal

    JimKal Devotee (469) Jul 31, 2011 North Carolina

    You're right. It was 1969, now a mere 46 years ago and I only remember that it was a Ballantine Ale. If this makes it down to NC I'll give it a try. I really like both of those labels.
  29. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,869) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Can you describe the difference (I know, after all these years)? I can vaguely remember the character of the XXX; definitely bolder and different from other beers of the day -- I can recall some unattenuated malt and herbal or earthy hops in the XXX -- not necessarily bitter, by today's standards, but definitely more prominent for the day.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,784) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Thanks for participating in this thread discussion.

    A couple of questions for you:

    In that article I noted:

    “The IPA uses four different malts and eight different hops, as well as hop oil to finish it off. American oak chips are used in the process, harking back to the oak and cypress barrels used for the original beer.”

    Did Ballantine IPA ever use eight different hops?

    Greg Deuhs made the decision to age on oak chips: do you think he was unaware that the oak tuns were lined with pitch (mammut)?


  31. kneary13

    kneary13 Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2010 Massachusetts

  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,221) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    As far as I've ever read, Ballantine used only domestic hops (in fact, they claimed to have pioneered contracting for hops with California hop ranches) - would there even have been 8 different domestic hop varieties available in the US during their heyday of the 1940-50s? :grinning: Ballantine XXX Ale, of course, was heavily advertised, and even labeled, as being brewed with Brewer's Gold but I'd imagine they used a number of other hops, as well.

    Pabst Master Brewer Greg Deuhs has been answering some of my questions and, with his permission, I'll quote what he's written. On hops:
    The beer is also all-malt (unlike anything I've ever read about the post-Repeal Ballantine India Pale Ale - which used corn grits as adjunct, as did the other P.B.&S. beers).
    As for the "wood aging", I think Pabst is aiming at a version of BIPA that is expected by it's former drinkers (before we all die off) and one that will appeal to modern craft beer drinkers. So, they chose not to be slaves to "authenticity" and follow some exact formula from 19whatever. (They also don't have those recipes, anyway).

    Lots of the old BIPA drinkers tasted the wood aging, whether it was there or not. Let's face it, there was not a lot of other beers to compare it to, so since the label said "Aged in the Wood One Year" some of those unique and intense flavors were attributed to the wood by some. Here's what Pabst is doing at Cold Spring:
  33. motomo

    motomo Initiate (0) Nov 28, 2007 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    So, through an unlikely interaction on another beer-centric forum, I had two of the 750ml bottles delivered to me this morning. I have absolutely no affiliation with Pabst other than some emails traded with them yesterday in response to a post i made. I believe that I am the first person other than Pabst, distributors, and the WILK beer buzz radio show to have them!

  34. puboflyons

    puboflyons Poo-Bah (4,143) Jul 26, 2008 New Hampshire

    Guess I will have to run down to Boston one of these fine days to pick it up. Too bad New Hampshire is not on the list.
  35. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Crusader (730) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    My father drank both and would tell people the IPA was the XXX squared. This was when Ballantine being brewed in Newark. I did drink the IPA once or twice back then. What I remember most about it was you could smell it across a table and it was way to bitter for my taste.
    Years later when I gave Dad a bottle of SNPA the drink his face lit up . He said it tasted like the old Ballantine IPA.
    steveh likes this.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,221) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    He discusses it at the 11:30 mark, during this interview.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  37. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (4,926) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    I had both the XXX and IPA back in the day, on my numerous trips to Fort Collins CO, when they were brewed by Falstaff, and I have to say, I much preferred the XXX. It had a unique out of balance taste that hit my taste buds just right.
  38. beerluvr

    beerluvr Meyvn (1,161) Jan 2, 2001 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    This is great news! I sure miss Ballantine's IPA...drank many sixes of it in the 80's.
  39. TheNightwatchman

    TheNightwatchman Zealot (511) Mar 28, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Sounds like I won't have a problem finding some here in PA. I'll definitely give it a try.
  40. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,869) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I'm almost sure the XXX I drank was brewed from the Falstaff days of Indiana.
    Bitterbill likes this.
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