Ballantine "India Pale Ale"... who remembers?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by diesel59, Mar 12, 2012.

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  1. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,341) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    And I drank one from Falstaff last year, for old time's sake, and it was what I expected. Not so good.
  2. gory4d

    gory4d Defender (669) Apr 14, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, the one I had hadn't held up very well; but the bones were still there, if that makes sense.
  3. ajthegreat

    ajthegreat Initiate (184) Nov 11, 2010 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    The Portsmouth Brewery and Stone collaborated on a really tasty ballantine IPA recipe a couple months ago brewed with Cluster. I enjoyed it immensely, though it didn't get the greatest reviews on here.
  4. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,341) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I guess appreciating what it once was got me through though it was not close to a drain pour.
  5. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (479) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    I have no idea. I just googled photos of Ballantine India Pale Ale and that showed up.
  6. diesel59

    diesel59 Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2012 New York

    is that a kettlebell?
  7. diesel59

    diesel59 Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2012 New York

  8. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,065) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Nah- here's the caption:

    -Do you want me to pour it Frank?
    -No I want you to fuck it. Shit, yes, pour the fuckin' beer!
  9. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (859) Jan 8, 2004 California

    Finally...another CrossFit buddy...
  10. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (128) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    I visitrd the Falstaff brewery in Ft. Wayne in the late Eighties, when Jack Schaller took over the brewing of the IPA, and I remember him bragging about dosing up the hops in the recipe, and that the ale was very bitter. More bitter than Anchor at the time. Made in open top, 175BBL fermentors of Cypress. I climbed up a ladder and looked in one.
    cavedave and TongoRad like this.
  11. azorie

    azorie Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

  12. jdauria

    jdauria Initiate (172) Sep 15, 2010 Massachusetts

    Actually brewing Ballantine IPA, pre-Pabst era clone tomorrow, based on a recipe from BYO Magazine from June 2010. Looks like based on the specs Jess posted, it's around 1960's version with estimated OG of 1.074 and ABV around 8%. Not aging for a year like they did though.
  13. mjryan

    mjryan Zealot (578) Dec 22, 2007 Minnesota

    So it makes you, ah, nevermind.
  14. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    My father in law described this beer to me (from the early 70's) as something that was so overpowering of dry/astringent/rough mouthfeel from dry hopping and wood aging that it was difficult to drink. He said when he took the first couple of sips, didn't think he could finish the rest, but by the time he got down to the bottom of the bottle his palate got used to it and was ready for another.
  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    It is a strange looking illustration when viewed alone - it was from a series of per-Prohibition era stamps that Ballantine put out (others below) and I assume the gentleman in the picture is attempting to pull the cork from a bottle of IPA in that time before the "crown cork" became standard.

  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Village Voice music writer Robert Christgau wrote a beer review sort of article for Oui magazine in the early "Great American Beer Awakening™" period of the mid-1970's (when any writing about beer was very rare in the US), in which he wrote of Ballantine India Pale Ale that it was " bitter it starts conversations at parties" .

    (*Had them all, save the Shopwell Premium, but I'm sure it was the same beer as most of the other Eastern Brewing Corp's economy brands)​
  17. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    There was nothing like it at the time, my first one was in 1974. It might go over well today. There is one I homebewed in the basement, aging. Have had a few pints, and it does bring back some memories already. I need to dry hop after it ages. Will do one corny with Brewers Gold and the other with Bullion to see if there is a difference.

    One thing that is a surprise is how woody/oakey it tastes, and it has never touched any wood. Probably from the 6 Row and old school hops like Bullion and Cluster.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “One thing that is a surprise is how woody/oakey it tastes, and it has never touched any wood. Probably from the 6 Row and old school hops like Bullion and Cluster.”

    Jeff, that is indeed surprising! Have you ever experienced that with you CAP beers (since they utilize 6-row and Cluster too)?

  19. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    No, but they don't use that much. I suspect it is from the Bullion hops, which I have never used before.
  20. starrdogg

    starrdogg Champion (825) Jun 21, 2010 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    My Dad used to drink this in the 80s when I was growing up. I have distinct memories of him letting me try the beer on various occasions and me recoiling from the flavor.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I personally have never used Bullion. Below is from the blog A Drinker’s Guide to Hops.

    “Tuesday, January 29, 2013A Drinker’s Guide to Hops: Bullion
    Bullion is a hop that first came about in England around 1919. It was bred from a wild seed from the Americas, so in that way, it is similar to Brewer’s Gold.

    Here is the information I could find on Bullion:
    Alpha Acids: 8-13%
    Cohumulone (% of alpha acids): 35-40%
    Total Oil Content: 1.1-2.7 ml/100g
    Oil Breakdown: 45-55% Myrcene, 23-30% Humulene, 9-12% Caryophyllene

    Bullion was apparently particularly popular as a bittering hop in the United States starting in the 1940’s, as it had a pretty high alpha acid content for the time. While some say that it isn’t suitable for aroma/flavor additions, it was used to create an extract to dry hop the famous Ballantine IPA. When used for late additions, Bullion is said to give of notes of must, black currant, spice and herbs. With the rise of various high alpha, dual purpose hop varieties, Bullion has seen its popularity fade. Avery Brewing Company makes use of it, though, in their Ellie’s Brown Ale, Out of Bounds Stout, Old Jubilation Ale and The Beast Grand Cru Ale.”

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  22. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,183) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    I'm old enough, but only remember the regular Ballantine's Ale. Found a few empty 40's in the basement of my house - grandfather used to drink Ballantines when he wasn't on home made wine or PBR. I remember finding a few full 12's buried outside in the fields and that was a headscratcher. My uncle told me Grampy would "plant" beers every few rows in the fields so he would have them to drink while cultivating and such. Explains the piles of broken green and brown glass along the stonewalls, I reckon.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  23. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Jack, Bullion and Brewers Gold are sisters, and often Brewers Gold was said to be the hop they used. Many say they are interchangeable. The wood/oak flavors are interesting to say the least. Will see if those age out, as the beer is a little hazy, hope it drops out.
  24. duchessedubourg

    duchessedubourg Aspirant (237) Nov 2, 2007 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    Drank it in high school when I was underage and was introduced to it by an "older" boyfriend - loved it, and fond memories of "the Ballantine Buzz."
  25. Tucquan

    Tucquan Poo-Bah (2,407) Oct 11, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Had it frequently while living in NJ from 1970-1972. I didn't know anything about beer but liked it because it was different and tasted piney. Really wish I could taste that recipe today.
  26. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I remember. But it turned me off so much at the time my brain shortcircuited and I have no recollection of the flavour/hop profile. God, we can be stupid fucks when start this hobby, eh?
    beergurujr likes this.
  27. Stinger80OH

    Stinger80OH Crusader (740) Nov 11, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    My father still to this day loves Ballantine!!
  28. InspectorBob

    InspectorBob Meyvn (1,082) Sep 4, 2009 New Jersey

    I'm old enough and drank alot of it ......
  29. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    They were 40 oz. bottles from Newark? Never realized they used them up there - New England was home to the original "Imperial Quart / 40 oz." bottles and it was also a big market for Ballantine but I was unaware of them using 40's.

    Ballantine in Newark used a long neck deposit bottle for their quart bottle, called it a "Bumper" and they were almost as tall as and could be confused with the Imperial quart bottles that Narragansett used for their beer and their Croft Ale (don't recall if they ever used them once Ballantine was brewed up there, tho'- seems unlikely since they were brown glass).

    BradenMK, beergurujr and Bitterbill like this.
  30. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,341) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Too provocative pics of a beer I miss so much. Thanks a lot.:slight_frown:
    BradenMK and beergurujr like this.
  31. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,183) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    Yes. The bottle on the right. Assumed they were forty ounce and they were victims of the cleanup when we bought the place.
  32. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    I always liked the rebus's on the tops. And the beer.
    beergurujr likes this.
  33. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Mitch Steele mentions Ballantine's repeatedly in his excellent book on IPA. Apparently, when this was brewed in Newark it was truly one of the old UK style IPAs, with IBUs around 65, aged for several months before release. Mitch says it was a shadow of its former self after production was moved and the company was sold, but I'll bet it was still miles ahead of anything else being brewed in the US in 1970. I don't recall ever coming across it.
    beergurujr likes this.
  34. beergurujr

    beergurujr Aspirant (230) Oct 27, 2003 Illinois

    It was miles ahead of everything on the shelf. One I missed, was dropped about the time I was born (1958), was the Ballantine Brown Stout.'smisc.beerpages/american-strong-ales-and-stouts

    Jess Kidden might be able to tell us the ABV and IBU for the Brown Stout. I'm guessing about 8-10% and 70-90 IBU.
  35. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Interesting! In case anyone is curious about further recipes details on the IPA, I'm at home now and have Steele's book in front of me and can relate some of them. Apparently, the recipe is reprinted with permission from a BYO article, so it is a homebrewing version, not directly the commercial recipe, but I assume it is close. Here are some of the details, with thanks to Mitch and BYO, whose fine book and magazine should be supported, and who surely will not sue me for reprinting some their copyrighted material here, cause they are awesome people.

    OG: 1.074
    IBU: 62
    ABV: 6.5%

    Pale malt: 71.3%
    Flaked maize (!): 14.7%
    Light Munich: 10.9%
    Crystal 60: 3.1%

    Hops: Cluster (48.8%) at 60, Brewers Gold (25.6%) at 25, EKG (25.6%) at 3 mins.

    This version calls for WY1056. Mitch notes elsewhere that the Chico yeast was supposedly descended from the old Ballantine's yeast. It says the original Ballantine's was dry hopped with Bullion hop oils and aged for one year prior to bottling!
  36. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I brewed Jeff Renner's recipe which is out on the old HBD somewhere. 6 row, corn and Sugar.

    Fred Scheer claims there were up to 100 recipes for this, which seems a high number.
  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    According to the Whitbread stats from Ron Pattinson's "NUMBERS" book, Ballantine Brown Stout was 6.86% abv in 1939 (by comparison, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout exported to the US around that time was 8%). Don't have a bitterness figure, but I don't imagine it would have been more bitter than FES at the time - a beer it was pretty clearly modeled after, right down to the "select" style 11.5 and 6 oz. bottles (at a time when Ballantine, like most US brewers, used standard 12 oz. and 7oz. longnecks for their other beers).

    beergurujr likes this.
  38. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (282) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    The current thinking is that an ancestor of 1056 is what Ballantine used for their "beer" (ie., "lager: that's right, they likely actually used an 'ale' yeast for that product). Their "ale" strain seems to have been a different yeast (and is currently currently sold by EAST COAST YEAST in NJ as "Old Newark Ale").

    The comment about the use of hop oil in the Ballantine Ales is absolutely was distilled in house at the brewery and they used it very generously in all of their ales, especially in the IPA and the Burton Ale.

    I've also confirmed that the IPA was definitely aged in wood for a year prior to bottling...but since the giant wooden tanks they used were coated with wax or pitch, it is still a bit of a mystery how that definite and very pronounced wood character found its way into the IPA and Burton (but not the regular XXX Ale).
    Interestingly, judging from the pre 1968 Bally IPA sample I tasted only months ago, that wood character is definitely still there even after all these years.

    I drank a boatload of this stuff at the tail-end of the Newark years and can only say no one...has come anywhere near the unique character of this stuff (and FWIW, even during the Falstaff years, at least up until the late '70s, it was still a remarkable brew). If only they'd kept it in it's original form a bit longer, it would still be a cut above any IPA out there today (the long aging really made a difference, too).
  39. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have a homebrewed version from a recipe a friend had from long ago. He asked about the pronounced wood taste and how I aged it. It was in stainless and never saw wood. My thinking is that the wood character comes from the Bullion/Brewers Gold hops.
  40. ThePorterSorter

    ThePorterSorter Meyvn (1,436) Aug 10, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    My father used to bring that beer up all the time (good ole Balley ale) whenever I'd go off about some flavor of the week new release...until I saw a sixer in the shelf in the WNY/CNY region & we actually sat down to drink the stuff. He used to say it was made with pine trees (which I was skeptical of).
    That beer was...uhh hard to finish, though glad it was something I could share with someone committed to drinking shitty beers (my misguided father). Not a repeat
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