Friday, 28 September 2007

Ballantine's bottled beers 1939

Only a short post today. The Whitbread gravity book has sections dedicated to most of the larger London brewers. But there's also a part lumping together those without pages of their own entitled "Sundry Brewers". It features an odd collection of brewers, not only from Britain but from abroad, too. I was susprised to find analyses of five of American brewer Ballantine's ales. I thought you might like to see them.

I'm not sure how Whitbread got hold of them. I can't imagine Ballantine were exporting to the UK at the time. It's especially surprising as the analyses were carried out in October 1939 - just after the outbreak of WW II.

Compared to British ales they look quite old-fashioned. Their specs are more like those of pre-WW I British beers. The weakest has a gravity of 1056. They ales are much paler than their British counterparts, and almost as pale as a Pilsener. (Carlsberg and Tuborg Pilseners on the same page have colours of 9 and 8 respectively. The two samples of Ballantine XXX Ale have colours of 9 and 11.)


tjason1 said...

Really great info here, I'm learning a lot. Just added you to my subscription list!

Anonymous said...

Ballantine XXX Ale (in the 70's and early 80's) was light golden colour and well carbonated. It was delicious. I was dry hopped and could produce the Ballantine Ale burp. The first draught beer that I ever had at McGovern's in Newark NJ. The beverage currently entitled Ballantine XXX Ale is dreary and boring; a shell of its former glory.

The brewery still stands in the city's Ironbound section.

The IPA was truly magnificient.
My father got me a six pack in 1973 shortly before the Newark brewery closed. At 19, I thought it was bitter and horrible. I later learned better.

Ron Pattinson said...

Tjason1, glad you like it. There must be a good five or six people reading my blog now.

Anonymous, I only ever got to taste the emasculated version of Ballantine's. I do remember it being very pale in colour.

I may post more about Ballantine. After all, I did grow up in Newark. Not the New Jersey Newark, but that's a mere detail. My very first job was in a brewery in Newark.

Anonymous said...

Here is the address of an article on Ballantine published about seven years ago. It has a few technical details about the beers.

If you have difficulty with the info do a search for
The late, great Ballantine Ale. The article is about six pages

Ron Pattinson said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link. It's good to know a little more about Ballantine.

Anonymous said...

Ballantine was a great brewery, in many ways so far ahead of it's time...their IPA outshines and outclasses anything produced today. Too bad the company folded when it did and sold off the portfolio of brands; the original brews would certainly outclass any of the current crop of micro attempts. Ballantine was a world class brewery, no doubt about it.

A correction regarding the XXX (as well as the IPA) was not a dry hopped product at all. The hop aroma and hop "burp" was the result of the brewery's generous use of it's house distilled hop oil. That is the key ingredient missing from the current imposter calling itself Ballantine XXX today. The current version is actually dry hopped, and a pale shadow of the original, glorious brew.

By the way...I recently had occasion to open a 40 year old bottle of the great Ballantine IPA. I was shocked and surprised at the presence of that intense hop aroma which I remembered from all those years ago. Quite amazing. Awaiting me now are two bottles of the legendary Burton Ale made by Ballantine (aged 20 years in wood!)

Ron Pattinson said...

Thanks very much for the additional information.

The Burton Ale sounds wonderful. It's one of the beers I would most like to try.