Ballantine IPA

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 57md, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. 57md

    57md Poo-Bah (2,984) Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    Can anyone explain why Pabst decided to discontinue Ballantine IPA?

    I know that some folks do not like anything made by a macro-brewery but I really enjoyed this beer and it was readily available at a great price for the last few years. I will miss it.

    Also, does anyone know if Pabst still plans to brew Ballantine Burton? This is another beer that I enjoy very much.
     
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  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, the simplest answer is likely the truest - it just didn't sell in the quantities they expected. Part of that reason was they and their distributors didn't market the beer correctly, even though they did get lots of press (free, the kind Pabst likes) and spent a fair amount (for Pabst) on promotional events, POP items and other swag, etc.

    Although Ballantine India Pale Ale took on an larger reputation during the "craft era" than it probably ever had pre-1972, most of that was among the brewers and writers, not the mostly younger craft beer drinkers. Falstaff and successor Pabst, if anything, helped ruin it by both cheapening the IPA in the 1970-90s as well as the "Ballantine" brand itself, where they turned the only beer left, Ballantine XXX Ale, into a poor product which they tended to market in the "40's - malt liquor" segment.

    Pabst has even dropped both Ballantine XXX and IPA logos from their corporation PORTFOLIO webpage and killed both ales' websites. I also noticed the other day that Pabst's masterbrewer who was behind the revived Ballantine Ales and their promotion, Greg Deuhs, is no longer at the company as of Sept. '18.

    Well, it was brewed at Cold Spring's new Third St. Brewhouse and used the original P. Ballantine & Sons name as a 'dba' - not so sure the average craft drinker (as opposed to the geekery who read the advance press and knew the history, etc) would have known it was a contract-brewed Pabst product.

    OTOH, the original drinkers of the Newark-brewed IPA are all well-over 60 - not sure there was much attempt to reach them.

    At this point, Pabst is not even a "macro-sized" brewing company, by the Brewers Association of "small = under 6M bbl" definition.

    Supposedly (I've read two different stories from Pabst's people) there was still some Burton Ale in Cold Spring, aging in both bottles (2015 and 2016) and some aging in bulk tanks, on wood and hops - that was summer '17, tho'. Unlikely they'd brew more. They were going to release some of it as a "vintage-dated" product (last?) Christmas but I - in what was once Ballantine's home market - never saw it.
     
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  3. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (811) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I did enjoy the IPA and the few times I saw it on draft it was priced like a macro. I remember a case for under $30.

    I still have 4-5 Burton left from the first year they brought it back. A bit sweet for me but I do have a few each year. It was a bit pricey at $44 a case. I would not revisit this one.

    Enjoy
     
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  4. Amendm

    Amendm Champion (803) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island
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    XXX was my 1st taste of Ale, sneaked a sip from my granddaddies' bottle.
    Classified as a Blonde Ale...always assumed it was a Pale Ale.
    I’m going to try to find a bottle before its all gone.
     
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    How long ago was that?

    Cheers!
     
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  6. Amendm

    Amendm Champion (803) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island
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    5 decades, and it was likely better back then.
    Prost.
     
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  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Uh, the Ballantine XXX Ale that MillerCoors brews for Pabst is not one of the beers being discussed (Ballantine India Pale Ale and Burton Ale) and, even though it's been missing from Pabst's Portfolio page, it's still being marketed. Should be pretty easy to find in RI - it's "second home" after Newark closed, and New England in general was a big market for the original brewery and for Falstaff's version. But, with a Pabst beer, ya never know.

    Well, when P. Ballantine & Sons was around, there was no such thing as a "Blonde Ale" style in the US. The beer (post-Repeal) was modeled after the hoppy, sparkling (aka "cream" or "brilliant") ales brewed in Canada during Repeal.
    Understatement of the year... it is a disgrace to the label.
     
  8. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Meyvn (1,011) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Most of the people who were buying Ballantine XXX Ale when it was brewed in Newark were already in there 60's in the late 60's. It wasn't your fathers beer. It was your grandfathers beer. At least in North NJ.
     
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  9. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, yeah, it literally was "my father's beer"...:wink: (but by the '60s, we'd moved out of Irvington to central Jersey).

    But this was not my mother:
    [​IMG]
    And the ol' man probably didn't like this woman's music ("Turn that !@#$ down!") - Well, maybe "Me & Bobby McGee" 'cause he did like Kristofferson ---but, if offered, he would have taken one of those ales from her, I bet:
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. tjwarren

    tjwarren Disciple (346) Dec 31, 2008 Ohio

    So sad to hear. Glad I drove to PA to get a case last year. I really enjoyed it.
     
  11. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,158) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey
    Trader

    Probably the same reason they shit canned Old Tankard Ale: it didn't sell.

    (which sucks because i loved that friggin' beer)
     
    #11 tzieser, Mar 26, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  12. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,219) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Ditto to the OT. It would have been a regular in my rotation.
     
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  13. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,063) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    OK then. We bought Ballantine Beer at Standard Drug in Richmond for $.79 a sixer back in 69-70. It was good enough for our budget. But we also drank Lowenbrau draft at Lums, found Ringnes for $3.99 a sixer and still found time for Red Cap Ale.We cherished National Premium a few years later, but the Ballantine line-up was very strange indeed. Looking back, the ale was an outlier and a remnant.
     
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  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, the beer which was known as an old-fashioned "heavy" lager eventually got a bad rep thanks to messing around with the recipe to make it lighter (like most other AALs of the era) in the mid-60s - which only aggrevated the customers they had left and didn't re-capture any of their old market. And changing it back didn't help, so they brought it down to below-premium prices in the outer areas of their Northeast distro region - eventually even bringing out an even cheaper beer called MUNICH ("Aged in the Wood", tho', in some of their horizontal oak casks).

    The XXX Ale was typically sold in the premium segment (probably still is?) and a coast to coast distro region, tho' that was shrinking by the end of the decade, with the IPA sold even higher but not nearly as much as some other US "super-premiums" like Michelob. (IPA's price started jumping under Falstaff ownership even as the dumbed down and cheapened it - lower abv & ibu's, shortened the aging period. )
     
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    The closest I ever got to a 1960's era Ballantine beer is this:

    [​IMG]

    My house was built in 1961 and during remodeling a Contractor found this can in the wall between two joists. Apparently one of the home builders had a beer with his lunch!?!:rolling_eyes:

    An interesting aspect to this can is the top of the can:

    [​IMG]

    @jesskidden, did the breweries have different cans for each state or was this just a PA thing?

    Cheers!
     
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  16. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (637) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Jack, was that can unopened?
     
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    No, it is opened. The home building person decided to open the 'bottom' of the can for some reason (didn't want to drink from the 'inked' side?). This is an old fashioned can in that you needed a can opener ('church key') to open the can.

    Sometime later canned beers had pull tabs installed on the top. I would be willing to bet that @jesskidden knows what year that Ballantine cans would have had pull tabs.

    Cheers!
     
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  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, not every state collected their excise or other beverage tax that way, but a few others still did - "stamps" on kegs, "tax paid" crowns or can lids.

    Similar to the ink stamp on the bottom of cigarette packs.
    "'
     
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  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    How was this 'managed' at the brewery? Did they have a bunch of different cans with the proper markings and then have to make sure they were delivered to the appropriate state(s)?

    Cheers!
     
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Not cans, just the lids. Those 2-ended cans came in with one end attached - the brewer filled and crimped on the other end w/tax stamp (when required ).

    Not sure how it was arranged. IIRC, for crowns, some brewers used the same generic cap if they sold beer in that state, others were "branded". Probably the same for most cans, except for Ballantine's copper colored cans. I guess it was up to if the brewer wanted to spend the extra printing cost.

    No harder to manage than the various different labeling requirements that were once more common than they are today.
     
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  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I am aware of labeling requirements whereby the brewery would package to be compliant to state x requirements but just send those same cans to other states. This is the first time I saw a state specific crown/labeling. Would Ballantine have sent a can with the PA tax crown to another state (e.g., NJ)?

    Cheers!
     
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    No, since it says TAX PAID and I assume they'd have to verify the number of lids they used with the PA tax collectors. Otherwise if sold in NJ the beer would have been double taxed.

    Not the same situation as the DEPOSIT lids - where the nickle/dime is only collected where required AND at the retail level at the time of sale.

    Not home right now- will check my old USBA's BEER ALMANACS later. Think its covered.

    Liquor bottles used to have paper seals over the cap - weren't they tax stamps?

    I know pre-Pro brewers would get in trouble if they were caught re-using Federal Tax Stamps on kegs. In that case they literally bought the stamps from the Feds, just like postage stamps.
     
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  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    No fair asking me questions that I would typically pose to you.

    I had to conduct a web search here and yes, apparently there were strips that were placed on liquor bottles and they were called "tax stamps":

    [​IMG]

    Was this solely a Federal Tax thing? Was there anything similar at the state level? For example PA taxes both spirits and wine via the Johnstown Flood Tax of 1936:

    https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2017/04/12/pas-18-hidden-tax-supposed-temporary-1936/100343742/

    Did PA ever utilize a stamp to 'validate' this tax was paid?

    Cheers!
     
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  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    @JackHorzempa
    Here's a page from the 1951 BREWERS ALMANAC section on how states collected their taxes on beer. As you'll note, many states used "Taxpaid crowns and lids/stamps on draught beer" or, in other cases, just "Stamps" (no idea how that worked for packaged beer).[​IMG]
    Some articles note that in PA, brewers ordered the crowns from the State Dept. of Revenue, but that bottled beer could be brought in without the crowns and stamps could be put on the necks within 24 hours at the wholesalers.

    Randomly pulled out the 1969 ed., and by then many of those states (inc. PA) were listed as "MONTHLY REPORTS" but WV, VA & SC were still using crowns/lids.

     
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  25. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,219) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    And Wyoming is still 2 cents per gallon. Unbelievable.
     
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  26. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    @JackHorzempa
    Seems like that was a common way for brewers to "buy" the paper stamps from the state tax authorities but once they went to the taxpaid crowns and lids (likely 'cause they were too heavy and bulky for "office" work) other states used other methods, either having brewers prepay the tax for the crowns/lids and then authorizing the lid/can manufacturers to sell them to the brewers or actually having the crown/lid manufacturers pay the state the tax (!).

    [​IMG]
     
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  27. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, lowest in the US. Altho' CO, WI, PA and MO are all single digits, too. Gee, wonder why those states? :grin:
     
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  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,427) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    My grand pop was a Ballantine guy, it was the official beer of the Phillies in the 60s. One beer I’ve never had, I was way too young to sneak one of his. When the Ballantine ipa was around seems like I could never catch it fresh.
     
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Yup. They were prominently displayed at Connie Mack Stadium:

    [​IMG]

    I also never took a sip of Ballantine. My father was a Piels Real Draft guy (and then much later in life Rolling Rock).

    Cheers!
     
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  30. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,427) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Great pic, remember McCovey hitting one over the clock, Willie Mays in his prime. I was always amazed your in North Philly, it’s a concrete jungle ...until you step out from the tunnels, the green always amazed me. That and the smell of stale beers and peanuts from decades of use.
     
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  31. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (405) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    What a damn shame. This is one of the few times I'm actually envious of folk back east and twice my age. If we let quality, indigenous styles and names go by the wayside, maybe we do deserve where we're at.

    I'm guessing the closest thing(s) might be brewed across the pond?
     
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    To Ballantine India Pale Ale? The previous versions (Ballantine, Falstaff, Pabst) or the short-lived revived Pabst/Cold Spring one? There wasn't much about any of them, in the post-Repeal 20th century at least, that was particularly "British" (other than some of the labeling/promotional wording, the latter of which there was never a lot - the IPA was always a "minor" portion of the brewers' portfolios).

    Throw in the fact that UK IPAs in the same period tended to be lower in ABV and IBUs - the older (1933 - 1996) Ballantine IPAs were pretty "American" - US-grown hops, corn grits adjunct - yeah, an imported yeast strain but one that had been maintained ("pedigreed" was the word they used) since Repeal, etc.

    During it's ~20 year absence when people I knew asked me for a substitute I always mentioned that Sierra Nevada Celebration and Bigfoot were the most easily found US beers that "reminded" me of BIPA. My "house" IPA after Ballantine disappeared eventually became Victory HopDevil.
     
  33. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (405) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    So they were more like American ales since the craft revolution began (starting with Sierra Nevada)? I meant the "original". They said they wanted something that wouldn't seem out of place in today's market, and some folk who were around for the older versions noticed a large difference.

    Also, do you know if Ballantine and Lord Chesterfield use(d) adjuncts?
     
  34. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Well, both Fritz Maytag at Anchor and Ken Grossman at SN have mentioned their admiration and being influenced by Ballantine IPA - although both used Cacade hops in their early hoppy/IPA-ish ales, Liberty, SNPA and Celebration, which were not available commercially during the Ballantine brewery's existence.

    Pabst's masterbrewer at the time, Greg Deuhs, who revived the ale tried to recreate the recipe of the Newark version (which did not survive, at least that anyone can find) based on memories and later versions but, as with any recreated beer, he was limited to currently available hops, malt and yeast, and even had the famous Ballantine hop oil recreated in the UK.

    So, he used modern ingredients to try to recreate the "taste" rather than attempt to duplicate the original recipe.

    Maybe some modern drinkers found Pabst's 2014-2017 Ballantine IPA "English" but I sure didn't - nor did I find it somehow "outside" the broad variety of craft IPA styles.

    Yup, there weren't many US all-malt ales in the Repeal>pre-craft era - the Ballantine ales, whether brewed by Ballantine, Falstaff or Pabst (up to 1996 or so) used corn, mostly "grits" when specified, as does Lord Chesterfield Ale. Currently, the version of Ballantine XXX Ale brewed for Pabst by MillerCoors likely uses corn syrup like most of their beers. Deuhs BIPA was all-malt, IIRC.
     
  35. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,767) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    The thing I'll miss the most about the recent revival was that subtle woody quality they got from running the beer through oak staves in the hop back. It really provided a nice cohesiveness between the upfront hoppiness and very bitter finish.
     
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    JK, FWIW I am of the opinion that Greg was just using ‘artistic license’ here. If he wanted to create a beer that was ‘closer’ to the Ballantine IPA of 1933 - 1996 he could have formulated a recipe akin to the collaboratively brewed beer of Smuttynose Cluster’s Last Stand. One of the collaborators of this beer was Mitch Steele (of Stone Brewing at that time) and the recipe is published in Mitch’s IPA book. This recipe is based upon a recipe that Bill Pierce developed (a good friend of mine). Below is that recipe:

    Malt Bill

    Pale Malt 71.3%

    Flaked Maize 14.7%

    Light Munich Malt 10.9%

    Crystal Malt 60 °L 3.1%

    Kettle Hop Schedule

    Cluster Hops – 60 minute of boil

    Brewers Gold – 25 minutes of boil

    East Kent Goldings – 3 minutes of boil

    Dry Hopping

    East Kent Goldings for dry hopping (but there was mention of “originally dry hopped with a distilled extract of Bullion)

    I conducted a side-by-side taste test of Smuttynose Clusters Last Stand and the ‘new’ Ballantine IPA in a past BA thread:

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/commun...and-vs-pabsts-ballantine.217032/#post-2853438

    There was a notable pine/resin hop flavor/aroma in the ‘new’ Ballantine IPA which I presume was from the use of modern day American aroma hops. I personally enjoyed this aspect but I suspect that the Ballantine IPA of 1933 – 1996 would not have tasted like pine? The Cluster's Last Stand sure did not have a piney quality.

    Cheers!

    [​IMG]
     
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  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,047) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Or just bending to commercial realities and Pabst's long history (dating back to its purchase by Kalmanovitz's S&P Corp. in the 1980s) of, well, let's call it "thriftiness".

    Well, there's just not a lot of info at all about the IPA of 1934* -1972 as far just the hops go. (* :wink: "Aged in the Wood One Year" and new ownership which did not start brewing until Dec. 1933, so the IPA didn't hit the shelves for awhile after Repeal - first ads dated Nov. 1934.)

    Many just assume that California- and/or Oregon-grown Brewer's Gold hops, eventually used in the flagship XXX Ale were also used in the IPA, but, even if so, not likely the first years of the post-Repeal era, since BG's weren't yet commercially grown in the US in the early 1930s. Others say that BG's sister hop, Bullions were used (in particular, for the distilled hop oil).

    After the beer became a Falstaff brewed product in 1972 (first at Narragansett in RI, and then Ft. Wayne) various sources claim their version of BIPA originally used Bullions, and later a blend of Brewers' Gold and American Yakimas. Falstaff's own info for the GABF's 1982 and 1983 entries (so during Ft. Wayne period) listed "Cascades and Bullion hops". Have never found a reference to the ale's hopping during it's period being brewed at Pabst's Milwaukee brewery in the 1990s, after Ft. Wayne shutdown.

    The point being (and I believe it's true of most decades-old US brands, contrary to brewers' promotional/marketing claims) the IPA was likely constantly tweaked and changed during it's existence after Repeal, especially given the fact that it moved from brewery to brewery, was a small-production "specialty" and somewhat expensive beer to brew (compared to the companies' other products) and the brewmasters were likely under economic pressure from above. Lowering abv and aging time certainly reflects that.
     
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Well, it was not just economics and availability here. For example Greg Deuhs was personally not a fan of Cluster hops for his beer: Cluster “didn’t give the flavor we wanted”. Maybe Cluster hops were not a preferred hop for Greg but I am pretty sure this hop was indeed used to brew the Ballantine IPA during the 1933 - 1996 timeframe. I am very happy with Cluster hops when brewing my CAP (and other beer styles).

    So, let's further discuss which hops Greg did decide to use in brewing the 'new' Ballantine IPA: In the end, he used a blend of old classics and newer varieties. “We ended up with Magnum as the main bittering hop. Then we dosed a combination of Columbus, Brewer’s Gold, Fuggles, and then we did use some Cascade.”

    Since you are well versed in brewing history you are aware that a number of the above hops would not have been available to brew the post-repeal Ballantine IPA. I view the decision to brew with both "a blend of old classics and newer varieties" to be a case of 'artistic license'. In contrast when Mitch Steele and Smuttynose decided to brew their version of an 'old' Ballantine IPA (Clusters Last Stand) they did not shy away from using Cluster hops (like Greg decided to do) and for their flavor/aroma additions they chose hops which would have been available to brew a post-repeal Ballantine IPA: Brewers Gold and East Kent Goldings.

    Needless to say but Greg Deuhs and Mitch Steele/Smuttynose took differing tacts in formulating their recipes.

    Cheers!
     
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  39. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,158) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey
    Trader

    Interesting tidbit: that sign was from the Yankees :nauseated_face:

    You'd think a more regional outfit like Schmidt's or Rolling Rock or some other PA based brewery would've jumped on that sorta like Narragansett did with the Red Sox.
     
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,598) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Well, according to the below linked article the Yankees -> Phillies scoreboard thing is fake news:

    “It Never Happened

    Yes the Phillies did install a new scoreboard in 1956, and yes it did look a lot like the one the Yankees had at the time, and yes it had a Ballantine ad on it, but NO it did not come from the Yankees and it was never trucked down to the city of brotherly love. The Yankees did not get a new scoreboard in ’56. The Phillies got their scoreboard, new, in 1956 from All American Scoreboards, the same Pardeevile WI based company that the Yankees did in 1950.”

    https://placesnomore.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/twoscoreboards/

    Cheers!
     
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