Have you heard about Ballantine IPA? It’s all the rage these days for beer lovers. Brewed to the original pre-prohibition recipe that dates back to 1878. Ballantine, founded in 1840, is one of America’s oldest beer brands, and is now owned by Pabst, the last American-owned mega-brewer. Curiously, Pabst does not own any breweries, but that’s a story for another day.
We’ll give Pabst credit for one thing, when they jumped into the craft beer market with Ballantine IPA, they did it with both feet. Miller, Anheuser-Busch and Coors have all had their own entries into the craft beer world, though none are as exciting as Ballantine IPA. Still, although Ballantine IPA is a recent arrival, would it surprise you to learn that Pabst (and Falstaff before it) has brewed Ballantine Ale for some time?
They have. I can recall it fondly from the 80s and 90s in Rhode Island, when I would purchase six-packs of cans (a novelty then, good beer in cans!) of this curious little beer with the three rings of “Purity, Body, and Flavor” on the label. It was remarkable in its drinkability and soft fruity hop character. Ballantine Ale was made with Cascade hops when few other beers were.
Ballantine (Pabst) says this about the beer on their website:
Ballantine Ale seeks out those looking for a heartier beer with pronounced hop flavor and higher alcohol content. Ale in nature, Ballantine touts an elevated alcohol level of 3.80% by weight and 4.85% by volume, all for the purpose of accommodating its hefty bitterness and aromatic hop character. “Dry-hopped” with the Cascade hop variety, Ballantine sports pronounced hop flavor and heavier mouth feel. Fermented at higher temperatures for that ‘ale’ likeness, Ballantine combines a lager’s best attributes with the smoothness of an ale.
Ballantine Ale Pours to a bright orange amber color with a faint wispy head and a soft fruity hop aroma in the nose that take me back 30 years. Taking a sip, the beer has a moderate maltiness up front followed by those fruity melon and citrus (Cascade) hops I remember from days gone by. The finish is balanced but not really bitter, but this beer is like a liquid time machine, and it amazes me how much it tastes just like it did three decades ago.
In all the (well justified) hullabaloo over Ballantine IPA, don’t overlook this little gem. It’s an easy-drinking pale ale with a light hop character that offers flavor as well as value at just $7.99 a six-pack locally.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.